"Origin" by Alyson Hallett, The Stone Library
"She continues walking through the woods
until it seems more accurate to say
the woods are walking through her -"
We come to our yoga mats for the first time and we are scared because we don't know the poses and the poses do not know us. And if we cannot shape our bodies into these strange forms, does that mean we fail? But, something about the practice, or maybe it's all svasana, something says do it again, do it again...and we do. Eventually, the poses become recognizable acquaintances that we acknowledge. And then, eventually again, the poses become so familiar we are the poses and they are us. I say, 'she continues moving on her mat until it seems more accurate to say the poses are moving through her-'.
"green leaves turning, autumn sun
streaming through gaps in the trees.
Persistent as air, persistent as soil -"
Challenges greet us each time on our mats yet we persist. It's like those little specks of sunlight through the tree's leaves are glimpses of hope that encourage us to keep going, keep trying. Even as we age, entering our own autumnal phase, our physical bodies begin to offer up the challenges rather than the mat itself. But we are , 'as persistent as air, as persistent as soil.'
this intermingling of person and thing.
She comes to rest in Paradise Bottom,
sits beneath a beech by the shore of a pond.
On the mat, our body begins to intermingle with the breath to help focus the mind on what is important, the now. 'We come to rest, seated in stillness, our mind the calm surface of a pond.'
Light softens. The gift of shade, chiaroscuro,
stone ledges braided with flickering seams.
Dragonflies skittle brief new bodies in and out
Like the dragonfly, we skittle about in our brief bodies. key-a-re-scuro is "the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition." Yoga is all about the contrasts effecting the whole. Can yoube grounded in a pose but flow, as well? Can you be steady and soft? Can you embrace the easy and hard aspects of a pose at the same time? Can you focus but also let go?
of reeds and she closes her eyes. Unsure
if the thoughts in her head belong to her
or the mulch of earth, leaf and light.
That last part of the poem is totally svasana, corpse pose. We close our eyes, 'unsure if the thoughts in our head belong us or from elsewhere.'