It was the 80s in Southern California and I’d wandered into a well attended yoga class at a local gym. The teacher was a woman.
She approached me purposefully as class let out and asked, “What do you think about doing yoga from a more feminine side?
It took about three decades to answer that question.
Yoga was interesting though I can’t remember why I thought so at the time. Mostly I was curious. When I was younger yoga wasn’t even an organized thing.
Dance was the thing I liked. Long ago in New York there was Haitian dance that fed my soul and also a modern movement class that fed my ego.
That class was a disciplined method. Precise. A purposeful brain teaser.Haitian was the opposite.
Lose your mind. Complete freedom within the form.
Wild animal wondrous Voodoo magic, fierce, graceful,bewitching, athletic and feminine at once.
I moved between the fancy Upper West Side studio graced by the city’s elite to a condemned building on the lower East Side where I stood out among people of different color and cultures. Upper West Side ~ pop music, Lower East Side ~ live percussion. Polished wood to worn wood, view of Central Park to pathway through the homeless.
I lived a double life or even a quadruple one but no one ever picked me out for being wrong or a slacker. Or a guy.
Years and years later, I am sitting with a psychic. I’ve met several over the course of this life. Why would I go? People I believed in believed in them. Simple. And compelling.
Like others, she refers to a spirit guide who is appears to be mine. She says, he is telling me…..
Oh yes. He. You are entirely male.
Your guides are only masculine.
I recall the first psychic I met in NY in my twenties. She was a Channel. She kept saying, he and she said, he’s calling you darling. I’ve never heard him call anyone darling before.
Well I don’t but I never disbelieve anything until it’s proven impossible and so.
The weather turned suddenly cold in Nashville. I’m beginning a yoga class as I remember a description of bones being yin… dry and cold. The organs are yang. Heat.
To balance the brittle in our bones we begin to move from the front and depth of the organs and blood.
The spine is felt in the back body, the intuitive body, the receiving body. We take a moment to notice.
We will not harden what is already hard. We will move from the front body which is the way the nervous system works anyway and let the receptors in back be calm and gentle.
I realize even as I teach them that most of the yoga I’ve studied has focused on bones. Most of the tension I’ve felt is the feeling of spine and sacrum. So much attention there had hardened me.
And before I even saturated my life with yoga? Why did that teacher recognize the masculine in me?
I reckon that the reason I was drawn to Iyengar Yoga was the reason I persevered through the first dance class mentioned here. It demanded absolute perfection and attention to detail that was familiar. That environment would emerge in me later characterized by personal eccentricity. There was a militaristic quality that I was sort of used to as a kid. Structure and alignment for sanity.
Anyone who knows me would be shocked by that. Because I grew up in a loving home, given all one could hope for including scads of freedom. And more so, I was a recalcitrant. I ran wild and against the grain. But there’s a kind of OCD thing that runs through my mother’s family of overachievers that stealthily bled into me.
I am telling you a story that speaks to the unfolding of yoga that makes it ever interesting. It portrays our experience of ourselves as fluid. It is a shape shifter, an enabler, a shrink, coach, parent and child.
So what is the feminine side of yoga? It’s the folding and unfolding and relationship of organ to organ. It is core strength born from breath that bone follows but does not initiate. It is bone as the structure and the interior as home.
It is home.