My escape is to just get in a boat and disappear on the water. – Carl Hiaasen
It was a rather trying week. We learned that our beloved dog, Rowdy, has advanced cancer. The vet gave her between 2 weeks and 2 months to live. We’ve been watching her like a hawk, and loving her all we can, while our hearts break inside. I worked at home a few days, where she laid at my feet most of the time, sleeping quietly, but breathing very shallowly.
At work, it was all about organizational restructuring, shrinking budgets, and the very tough decisions that come with those two things.
On Friday night, I felt like an old frayed shirt that had been washed and wrung hard in a rough river, beaten with rocks, and then thrown up on the bank to dry. Absolutely limp and nothing left. I watched two movies, which was all my mind was capable of doing. In both, the theme was escape. In the first, the heroine disappeared, took a break from her life from a week, trying to escape a major decision; in the second, the woman ran to escape the pain of a great loss.
Have you ever just wanted to take what money you have, pack a bag, and get on a plane or a train and just GO? Go anywhere, but just go? And go ALONE? That was me on Friday night. I wanted to be anywhere other than here – Italy, France, the beach, or the mountains –any of them would do. I just felt like running – far, fast and hard.
Well, it’s Saturday, and I didn’t run. (I had a much needed hair appointment scheduled.) But I did go to yoga. I wanted to breathe out all those toxins the week poured into me, and breathe in some new energy and hope.
Near the end of the class, we did the locust pose. The locust pose is done prone, starting on your stomach. The legs, chest and arms are all lifted, while your pelvic stays rooted solidly to your mat. While you hold locust, you can rock back and forth, gently, like a bowl or a boat. While doing the locust today, an image popped into my mind and would not leave. I saw a small, wooden boat, gently rocking in clear blue water. Gently rocking, up and down on the slow waves, the warm sun shimmering all around it. No one was in the boat, but that was OK, because, in my vision, I WAS the boat.
I looked up the locust pose- it took me a while, because as a newbie yoga person, with that beautiful image stuck so strongly in my head, I was convinced it was called the boat pose. ‘Boat’ sounds so much nicer than ‘locust’. But alas, it is called the locust.
The locust pose is a great pose to strengthen the back and improve fatigue. It also reportedly stimulates the swadhisthana, or sacral chakra – the second major energy center in the body.
Swadhisthana means “seat of the sacred self”. One’s own soul abode. The root of the Sanskrit word, swad- or svad-, can also translate as ‘to taste with pleasure’, ‘to enjoy’ or ‘take delight’. It is rooted in the element of water. (There’s that darn water theme again….) The swadhisthana holds your connection to your emotions; it holds the power to flow towards your deepest needs and desires. It is this energy that helps you to move in the world, the energy that fuels your ability to balance, renew and produce. You get your sense of freedom and being open to change through the sacral chakra.
Opening up to this chakra provides the opportunity to lessen our control issues and find a balance in our lives. The high functioning aspect of swadhisthana is the ability to enjoy, and the low side of this chakra is depression and heavy emotional conditions. Getting in touch with swadhisthana can help us learn to adapt to new situations. Like water it can help us move over, under or around the obstacles of life. If this chakra is blocked we will find it hard to make changes in our life and patterns of behavior, and as a result, probably feel stuck in a rut most of the time.
Clearly I needed some major re-adjustment in my sacral area, my ‘life enjoyment’ chakra, and I didn’t even know it. On the mat, for just a few minutes, I BECAME the peaceful little boat rocking gently over the waves, happy to just be floating along; existing, breathing, and witnessing all that passed, both the good and the bad.
At the end of class, our teacher read from the writings of yogi poet Danna Fauld.
Take all your sins and
shortcomings, every last
mountain and molehill
of your past, and give
them over to the waves.
“That’s too easy,” you say,
but I tell you there is light
hidden beneath your fear
and a free spirit waiting
to soar with the sea gulls
the moment you relinquish
your tight grip on
guilt or innocence.
Receive the blessings of
the salty spray, the
benediction of the cormorant.
Forgiveness looks like
the delight in your eyes
as you wave goodbye
to the shoreline.
I am continually amazed at what yoga is teaching me. It’s hard to call it exercise, because I don’t think it’s making me lose any weight. But the emotional lessons and healing benefits it brings are frankly nothing short of life-changing.
Rock on, little boat.
For today, that is escape enough.