Practice,  Yoga in the Everyday

Live From All Angles

Today my daughter woke up at 5:50am, underslept and overgrumpy.  Schlepping our way through our usual morning routine my first glimpse outside revealed a gray, drizzling day.  I know. It’s good for the farmers. But I still felt a little oppressed by the weight of the clouds and had a hard time lifting my spirits to meet the day.  That is, until the duck costume came out. My daughter has a duck costume –  which she regularly calls a chicken –  that has a hat, webbed feet and a large puff for a butt that wiggles when she walks.  In all seriousness she struts around the house going on with business as usual, except as a duck/chicken rather than her usual persona.  Needless to say this little yellow ball of sunshine lightened my mood. Mid-shampoo I found myself feeling relieved that she requests to dress up as animals and not as a princesses, pop-stars or beauty queens.  I have a particular aversion to her playing roles that traditionally reduce women to superficialities and I haven’t introduced her to much in the way of princess attire or media.  And then, I had to question myself.  I realized that my greatest hope is not that Rowan will grow up to be independent and non-conforming and resist traditional female stereotypes and roles.  My greatest hope is that she will grow up able to be anything and everything.  I pray that she will grow up able to befriend and express the awkward duck, the fierce lioness, the wise goddess – and, the princess.  I realize that we have all of it in us, many characters and innumerable archetypes that can add dimension and richness to our lives in countless ways.  Can I offer my daughter the fertile soil where on one day she try on the animal in her, on another the divine – pig and angel alike?  Can I help her see past the superficial associations of the princess and instead claim her royal specialness when its important for her to do so?This thought comes on the heels of the realization that in my yoga practice, for many years, I have been favoring particular angles of movement.  Instead of exploring my full range of motion or lack thereoff I was consistently repeating only a few ways of moving, paying much less attention to other “vectors” of movement.  I had been preferring hip openers and inversions because I have flexible hips and strong arms while avoiding back bends and standing balance poses to reduce feeling my weaknesses.   For about the last year, however, I have been intentionally probing the lost angles of my movement and it has meant that I have been able to expand spherically into more expansion and tone in all directions.  Where there was once was atrophy, now there is strength, where there was tension now there is openness – and there’s no end to this spherical expansion.My point?  Don’t just be duck.  Don’t just be a flexy hip person.  Tone your hips and your rock star, expand your spine and your princess.  Live from all angles, in your practice and your life.