Early this week I trekked to my friend Katie’s studio, 1617 Lab, in Santa Monica and I experienced a pilates training session that blew my mind, body, and spirit. I was a professional dancer in my twenties, I’ve practiced and taught yoga for over fifteen years and have been a gym bunny my entire adult life. I consider myself “body aware”. However, she took one glance at me and proclaimed that I needed to find my “energetic back body”.
A few days later I flew to New York City to teach in the Three Sisters Yoga teacher training program. We discussed the concept of duality. In Hinduism, Shiva (Purusha) is recognized as the embodiment of pure consciousness, and Shakti (Prakrati) as the embodiment of pure energy or our nature. Shakti is life-force, feminine energy, wisdom, and the great mother of movement and change. Shiva is: the unique embodiment of awareness and consciousness, masculine energy, and the unchanging observer. This dance of consciousness and energy is experienced within each of us, regardless of gender. Only when Shiva and Shakti merge can action, movement and creation arise.
This discussion led us to the current state of politics, the division in our country and the concept of light and darkness. We considered, what if the darkness we are experiencing in the world is a reflection of a personal internal struggle? What if the merging of the front and back body, the divine feminine and masculine, the light and dark, is the responsibility of us all as individuals? In other words, hate can’t drive out hate. And maybe love can’t drive out hate either. Perhaps self reflection, self love, and actualization drives out hate.
As an artist, I like to present my front side. I perform, get attention, and even acclaim. In this “social media, twenty-four hour news, the president is a reality star world”, it is easy to do. However, it is my duty as an artist to examine my back side. In every masterpiece both the light and the dark are explored. Consciously or not, the creators of art are exploring these themes. They write, paint, or choreograph some part of themselves that is in need of healing. As a yogi and an artist, I’m learning to honor the backside of my mind, body, and especially my spirit.
Take out a piece of paper and write about how you are feeling regarding your current situation. Not what you have read on the internet or witnessed on the news, but what you are actually experiencing. Then read the words aloud. Allow yourself to be angry, sad, or even content and happy by sitting with the feelings without judgement.
Lay flat on your back on the ground. Begin by taking a breath and scanning your body from your feet upward. Feel the weight of your backside on the earth. Don’t miss any body part as your awareness rises up to the crown of your head. Take a few breaths and repeat the action in reverse ending back at your feet. Pay special attention to any areas of tension and give extra breath to them.