It was pouring only a few minutes ago as I was gathering my mat and journal and pen to practice outside, The sky had turned almost black with thick charcoal clouds and sheets of rain were coming down hard.
But now I’m sitting outside listening to the drip-drip-drip of rainwater in the gutters and watching pools of sunlight spread across the deck and noticing how patches of blue sky are opening above the pine trees.
In Florida, especially in the summer, this ebb and flow in nature— between sun and clouds, blue sky and gray streaks of rain — reminds me of the ebb and flow of energy that is part of our practice and our lives.
There’s an ebb and flow between the days when we feel compelled to step on our mat and the days when we’d prefer to spend the day in bed eating chocolate and reading our favorite novel.
And there’s an ebb and flow of energy between our poses, too, as we move from one pose to another. Indeed, each pose has its own ebb and flow of energy, a way of challenging us to push harder through the pose or to relax into it.
In Forward Bend, for example, we can feel the energy surge in our hamstrings and calves as we bend over, and we can feel the energy relax in our upper body, from our hips to our head.
As we bend forward and stretch to touch our toes, we can feel a wave of energy spiraling up the front and back of our legs. This pulsation of energy is what helps us rise, arms extended upward, into Mountain Pose. And we can feel the energy subside as we bend forward again and move into Downward Dog.
In Downward Dog, we push into the mat with our palms and fingers, and we can feel the energy of the pose work its way up our wrists and elbows to our shoulders and head and along our spine to our hips.
At the same time, as we press our toes into the mat, we can feel the energy flowing down our legs, from our hips through our calves and ankles to the soles of our feet, ebbing only to return as we rise up to Mountain Pose once more.
This ebb and flow of energy is not just part of our yoga practice but an integral part of our lives, of being human. Life itself is made up of this ebb and flow of energy.
There’s the ebb and flow between illness and health, sleep and wakefulness, hatred and love.
And there’s the ebb and flow between war and peace, fatigue and energy, weakness and strength, friendship and love, damp and dry, hot and cold, blue sky and gray clouds, sun and moon, stars and sky.
It’s this ebb and flow of energy that sustains us in each of our poses and throughout the days of our life.
Practice Journal: How do our poses help us connect with this flow of energy so that, with practice, we can become aware of its ebb and flow and feel more fully alive in each moment? Write: 10 min.