Wednesday, February 2, 2005

After years of daily dedicated practice, my legs shoot 180 degrees into the flat splits. My foot nestles behind my shoulder, below the shoulder blade, even. I bend in half backwards, reaching around to grab my thighs.

And then what?

When meeting a beautiful woman, Vimalananda, Robert Svoboda's Aghori teacher, would picture kissing the skull beneath the skin. Time melts the skin away and the skeleton that lies beneath is inevitably bound for the funeral pyre.

My body ages, decays and declines, a rented suit that becomes more and more threadbare. My legs no longer reach into perfect splits, my foot no longer fits as easily behind my head, and my spine yields less and less into back arches.

And then what?

Is a deeper backbend yoga? Is putting your leg behind your head yoga? Is that what this is all about?

Of late, "And then what?" has provided nice ballast to my physical practice. Ashtanga vinyasa can be so physically demanding sometimes that I have to be extra attentive to focusing the heat it generates.

Over the course of my life, there's been a brief span of years that I can do a handstand, a forward bend, a backbend. None of it changes the fact that I'm headed for the funeral pyre, too.