At the end of most Vinyasa classes you find yourself lying still in Dead Man’s pose for a few minutes before being asked to turn onto your right side. You lay there in the fetal position, usually in a pool of your own sweat if it was hot yoga, and then come up to a seated position in order to bow, recognizing yourself and the others in the room. Then you go on about your day. Like everything in yoga this experience is increasingly useful to you as you bring the psychological components into conscious awareness and struggle with them.
Thinking about the life cycle of a yoga session can help you enjoy your life more. You will find yourself mindfully focused in the present during your practice and also outside of it. Yoga practitioners know that whether the spheres of experience under observation are comparatively large or comparatively small they are all governed by the same principles. What can be applied to the small can be applied to the big, and vice versa. In this way the spiritual revelations in the microcosm of your yoga practice can be used to understand the spiritual revelations of the universe.
Next time you are in the fetal pose at the end of your yoga sequence think about the glory that in this moment you are being reborn and can shape your attitude towards yourself and your life any way you choose. Regardless of where you are in your life cycle, you will one day have to confront real death, symbolized by the end of the session where you are laying flat on your back in Dead Man’s. Think about how expectant you were at the start of class, not yet having begun your asanas and still with the full hour in front of you. How quickly it flew by!
Time is relative. Viewed through the lens of the aeons, what is the difference between a one hour yoga session and a hundred year life? They are both tiny specks and seemingly inconsequential units. But time is made up of an infinite series of present moments, and without the present there could be no past and no future. It stands to reason that your present moment is just as significant as every other present moment since it supports and holds up the past while making way for the future. Your present can be infinitely more significant when you choose to inhabit it fully.
Considering the yoga sequence as a cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth will help you recognize the moment you do have right now as precious. Everything that has gone before you up to this point, including the last hour of asanas, is now in the past and can never be altered. It is set in stone. The present is yours though to do with as you please and the future is still pregnant with possibility. It’s a special gift we have been given to be symbolically reborn countless times during our lives rather than being physically born just once, going through nature’s mandated sequence of birth, growth, life, death, and rebirth. Of course we are bound to natural laws and must face biological death too.
This conversation is saying spiritually pretty much the equivalent of what Gestalt psychologists mean when they refer to the needs satisfaction cycle. In order to feel whole we must complete the areas of our lives that are left hanging. This gives us the ability to open up fully to the next stimulus from our environment that draws us forward. Without the ability to complete the cycle and withdraw we could never fully commit to whatever came next. Our energy and thoughts would be in two places, or multiple places as is so common for us in the modern world. The yoga session lets you become aware of completing a miniature life cycle. You will view your full life cycle in a different light after a few times of mindfully completing the process. You might be surprised by some of your dawning realizations that have been staring you in the face but were ignored or only half thought out. We are constantly making decisions for how we want to live our lives, whether actively or passively.
Time is not unceasing for any of us, even though it often feels that way. Just like every yoga practice invariably comes to a close, every life must one day come to an end. But next time you rise from the fetal position, let yourself feel gratitude that your larger journey is not completed yet and that you still have time to become the fullest possible version of who you know you are.