Any time you call a doctor or dentist's office in America to book an appointment, the first words from the receptionist are: do you have insurance? You could be standing there bleeding or in the midst of a heart attack, and someone would be asking you if you have insurance.
After being out of the country so long, it's one of these quirks that really stands out upon my return years later. The first words, not the first question mind you, but the very first words, the first reply is about insurance. Do you have it? What is it? Who with? With numbers and cards and data exchanged to and fro.
I sort of had enough when this happened yet again. I just couldn't resist teasing the receptionist. "Of course. It's all about insurance," I said. "Would be so nice instead to show a little concern, like what's the troubling you, what's the matter or even a 'how can we help?'" She laughed nervously. Some young girl caught in the matrix, 'just doing her job'.
Yet how many times do we speak like this to others, like we've been given the words to a script that we didn't write? Speaking is so profound and such a powerful way to 'commune' with another and yet in our day-today interactions do we really value what AnOther could be telling us or vice versa? Do we devalue AnOther with trite and bland words strung together with no heart, no feeling, no expression? The throat center, the fifth center, rests right above the heart center. In fact, the throat and the solar plexus (right below where the ribs split) form a circle around the heart. Poses like head-to-knee with bent leg help bring these energies into harmony and allow for feeling to color the logic of our words.
Humility is a near-constant companion these days. For example, after having written this autumn about bringing light ether into both yoga work and everyday interactions, I then got into arguments in which there was little space or room for growth. Life loves to throw tests and play jokes. Humility and humor have been quite a pair lately.
Learning happens by looking at what goes awry as much as by looking at what flows. In one instance, an argument occurred standing behind strangers in a serpentine security line that merged with several other lines at Newark airport. Only one X-ray machine was working, but there were plenty of guards milling around. Yours truly asked the guards a'milling (and geese a'laying) if they could please open another line, tsk'ing and tutt-ing when none did. A woman and her son in front of me in line turned around, told me to "shut up," and then berated me. Long story short: the boy had been in the U.S. Army. They were completely identified with the Uniforms, so bound with the whole patriotic thing, that they mistook my impatience as a personal insult. So, they insulted me back. I lost my overview. I got angry. I tried my experiment of objectively observing and for a nano-second, I felt compassion for us fools over-reacting with each other over a matter we had no control over. But once the emotional, chemical-electromagnetic chain reaction is let lose in the body, it's really too late.
It's better to disengage from such an interaction than continue to struggle when we're in such a state of imbalance or when either party is so locked into their subjective opinions that there is no room for calm overview. Likewise, when I'm unable to free my breath from the body's tensions and resistances in an asana, when I'm so bound with my thinking that I'm straining on the mat, it's better to just get out of the pose, slip into a rhythmic exercise, and try another time.
What adds to the tension is speaking or talking while in such a chaotic internal state. Words usually just add to the turmoil. Yet that's exactly what most of us do, talk with neither humility nor humor. We either confront without care or compassion, a verbal bulldoze, in some attempt to control or change the other. Or we speak words that carry no truth or even room for the truth to emerge. We'll take a closer look at the throat, the juncture where this very human capacity to voice, to express what's going on within to the outside world, to commune with another, occurs.
The second chakra is the sacral. Physically, this corresponds to the sacrum, the fused lower spine that forms that bony plate, and the reproductive organs and lower abs in the front. It's also a major energy centre, 'major' in that it is a seat of strong sensations otherwise known as emotions. When we are holding onto emotional baggage, we're blocked and stuck. When we acknowledge these emotions and release them, we are flowing. This is why there are ancient associations between this chakra and water and fluids.
The wide stretch pose, or konasana, is a classic second-center floor pose. Spread legs as far as you can manage and reach for your toes or ankles. Breath by natural breath, ease the upper half of your body towards the ground. Engage your upper thighs towards the hip sockets, which provides lift and extra support for your torso.
Don't get hung up on rushing to get your head to the ground. It really doesn't matter how far you come down. What matters is the therapeutic effect of releasing blocked stuck energy in the sacral. So, every time you meet some resistance, observe the sacrum area and free-breathe until your body softens. You'll experience a flowing sensation along the spine that will aid you as you come closer to the ground.
Now, bend your knees and thread your hands and arms under your knees for the turtle or kurmasana (please avoid if you have disc problems). Your elbows should meet the backs of your knees, your palms face down behind. Our limbs, which were so feathery in the wide stretch, are now a source of tension, literally shaping two crosses on the ground. The arch in the spine feels energetically like a river suddenly flowing backwards, upstream, against gravity. We are forced into stillness, our senses drawn inwards, and our consciousness freed from strong emotional energies.
Yoga in Blue Jeans
"To communicate is to connect, yoga in its truest sense."