So I realized this week that having the expectation that winter was almost over was, perhaps, unrealistic. It always seems I’m leaning into the future. It seems the weather is telling me there are at least a few more weeks of hibernation. Perhaps I need to lean back and abide in this time of rest and reflection. The earth is resting and preparing for spring. Why can’t I?
I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations, anticipating, and how these feelings affect me. Are they helpful or just a platform that sets me up for disappointment? I don’t really know yet.
I do know there is one pose that helps me navigate and sit with this question, and this time of year. Forward folds were never really my favorite poses. The most basic of them all is the seated forward fold, paschimottanasana. The translation is “intense stretch to the West,” which begs the question: “Why to the West?” The symbolism of the west is that it is the direction of the sun setting. I read a recent article about forward folds… “In Western mythology, sunset is a magical time of transition, a liminal time between worlds, the movement from the bright daylight world of the conscious mind to the dusky dream world of the unconscious.”
At this time of year. I want to just explode into spring. I am so ready, so filled with anticipation and expectation. But it’s not time yet. In this case my expectations are not serving me.
So I’m settling into seated forward folds for this time of transition. There are two ways to approach forward folds.
As a yang, active, heated posture where you are engaging the quads and flexing your toes to the sky, reaching through the crown of the head and reaching your heart forward as if it wanted to kiss your toes. Typically the legs are together and extended forward, but I prefer to have about 8-12” between my feet to ease the tension on my hips. You can sit on the edge of a blanket or quilt and just ease into it holding the pose for 8-12 long deep breaths.
The other approach is in the yin spirit, more restorative, quiet, waiting. With legs extended forward, let the feet flop open. Let the head hang down and release into gravity. No muscles engaged, let the joints and ligaments just melt with the passing of time and gentle pull of gravity, holding this position for 3-5 minutes.
Both of these poses help me connect back to earth and my heart and get me grounded again. There is a larger way that time passes in nature, and in life, that is much more perfect than my impatient approach. When I sit in forward fold I bow to this way. I honor my beautiful childlike excitement of something good to come and can abide in the waiting for it to arrive.
Be well…it’s a state of mind.