The meditation mantra of the month is Pratikriyasana, or counter-pose. Counter-poses are part of what makes a yoga class feel so gooooood. You do a forward-fold, and then you do a gentle back bend. You stretch, strengthen, and breathe hard, and then you lie on the floor and release every teeny weeny muscle from you toes to your forehead. Whole and balanced strength comes from engaging the muscles, stretching them, and releasing them.
I think the practice of counter-poses off the mat sounds particularly delicious as well, but harder to come by because I’m in charge of making it happen. What’s the counter-pose to cleaning the house? Maybe something creative…painting? building? writing? I need to figure it out. I know that when it comes to building strength in your body, the counter-pose makes the original pose & muscles stronger, more complete. So, it would mean that the counter-pose to cleaning up will make the cleaning easier. Maybe one requires the other? Two sides of the same coin?
The theme of the next Daily Bread Yoga retreat is “If Hope Is A Muscle…then what?”. I like the image of hope being a muscle. And like any muscle, it will get exhausted and maybe even seriously injured if not practiced with appropriate counter-poses. I don’t think the counter-pose of hope is despair. I imagine the counter-pose might be different depending on the hope.
Maybe an appropriate counter-pose is lament. The Psalms are full of spiritual counter-posing; one will be of praise and thanksgiving to God, the very next is lament and anger. Maybe lament and hope are two sides of the same coin? Maybe the one strengthens the other?
Or maybe a better counter-pose for the life and health of your hope is joy in the present moment? I think of the video of the clowns walking through the refugee camps bringing long-awaited laughter and joy to the families there, even and especially in the midst of suffering. Their silliness and laughter doesn’t negate or minimize the wretchedness of their current reality. But, it surely strengthens their hope. The laughter can be heard in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Haven’t seen the video of Clowns Without Borders? Watch it here…..
What’s the counter-pose for the hope that is in you?
Maybe coming to the retreat is the counter-pose you need in this busy, chilly, and noisy time. The next Daily Bread Yoga- Saturday Morning Retreat is Saturday, December 12th, 9a.m.-noon, at Philo Presbyterian Church. $20 if that works for you, but don’t let that stop you, please. Bring a yoga mat (or let me know and you can borrow one from me), a blanket, and a bottle of water. And please invite your friends and family. Know that you need to be able to get up and down from the floor with relative ease, and some experience with yoga is recommended but not required. Please let me know if you plan to be there so I can be excited to see you! 🙂
peace on your head, you.