Sometimes I feel very emotional after teaching a particularly energized Integral Yoga class. Tonight was one of those times.
For the months of September and October, our classes have focused on Pranayama (see Tips-n-Tools for more on our bi-monthly focus), or breathing practices. Complemented by this week’s waning moon and the coming of Fall, our exhales have come to mean more than a mere letting go of air. Indeed, they’ve become symbols of transformation.
So at tonight’s IY class at Past Tense Studio, under a rainy sky and just four days before the new moon, we imagined our battles, troubles and trials in the palms of our hands. Holding our palms together at heart-center, we honored this darkness, and perhaps grew to understand it.
Next, after inhaling our fingertips toward the sky, we exhaled and allowed our arms to open wide, releasing our darkness. With each exhale we began to dissolve what no longer serves.
The intention in the room felt so deeply human, even vulnerable. How could one not be moved?
Today marks the opening of the Indian holy days called Diwali – from the crescent to the new moon, as that pie-in-the-sky whittles away to nothing, Hindus, Sikhs and others celebrate the proverbial triumph of good over evil within individuals. During this Festival of Lights, as the night sky darkens to moonless, the golden glow of oil lamps fills streets and homes.
Indian folkloric tales share the journeys of historical characters returning from exile, imprisonment and battles to be welcomed by candlelit temples and rows of oil lamps.
And here in the Mid-Atlantic, as the moon disappears and the change of seasons falls upon us, we exhale in yoga class and let go, let go, let go – making room for more light within.
In Autumn, nature begins its own process of letting go. Green grass turns dry brown, leaves turn brilliant colors then drop to the ground, blue skies surrender to misty grey and the sun sinks lower each day. Things appear to be dying in the fall. At the same time, gardeners plant bulbs that nestle in the ground to be nurtured by fall’s fertilizers.
‘Tis the season to say goodbye to the old, to let it die off and sink away. So plant your bulbs and let them rest while you live each changing moment of autumn. Light a candle, wish your darkness farewell, then let yourself glow.
I am setting a Diwali intention. Between today and the new moon of Sunday, October 18th, as that sliver of a moon disappears, I invite you to join me in envisioning your darkness between the palms of your hands – embrace it, honor it, understand it. Lift your fingertips to the sky, and exhale to let go, let go, let go.
May the light of truth overcome all the darkness. OM Shanti.
(P.S. Gratitude to Liz Workman of Nashville’s Belmont Lotus, and many others who believe that our obstacles can be teachers, for the inspiration.)