soften into power

this past week I’ve been theming my yoga classes around the word ‘power,’ a word which began insisting upon itself in my life recently, when I was asked to sub a ‘power hour’ vinyasa class at the studio where I work. suddenly, I couldn’t read an essay or listen to spoken word or engage in a conversation without the word ‘power’ coming up. while most of the classes I teach are flow-based, the notion of ‘power’ within them was new. in the days prior to the class, crafting the sequences, I discovered that the same question kept coming up: is this flow powerful enough? but, for my inner guru— the wisdom within me to whom I turn when I need enlivened guidance, when I am ready to open to grace– the answer remained the same. power? well, what does that mean?

is power just muscle or force? are we talking about power over or having to power through? I’ll never teach a class like that, no– the power I want to cultivate is the power of water to carve canyons. the power the moon has to draw the oceans of the earth towards itself, followed by the rhythm of their release. the power (via walt whitman) of the smallest sprout, who, in its urge to emerge, shows there is really no death.

a kind of power that knows how and when to yield, that is fluid and patient and moves with ease and joy in the expansions and contractions that make the play of the universe and the play of your breath in and out of your lungs. a power that is soft and open and strong enough to bend without breaking, to dance all night and to surrender to the sweetness of sleep. the power of the play of the ocean with the land it meets, over and over, pure from the first to forever. the pulse of play we create in our own bodies, an echo of the everything.

maybe power is this: the ability to stand in your own tracks, empowered to step into a new situation and adapt while staying rooted in your truth and authenticity. the capacity to be limber enough to dance with the challenges that come up. and: knowing when to flex and engage, to act with potency and intention. and: having the audacity to rest when you need to, knowing what self-care means for your body, mind, and spirit. and: the courage to allow spirit to take over and move you towards your very highest potential. being swept up in the ocean of your own power and enjoying the sensations of the waves crashing over what you thought were your limitations. finding your edge– the cliffside rush that makes your heart known to you– and the spaciousness that is yours when you can breathe there, knowing limitless expansion is yours.

maybe power is this: you clock out and head towards home. you can’t remember your last day off. you yearn for wilderness every day as you sit in traffic or in your desk chair. as you drive, you feel called by something you can’t name to steer your car away from the streets that lead to your home. you find yourself suddenly at the precipice of something: where the world you know in the usual rhythm of your life is met by something greater– say, an ocean– and at this frontier, kicking off your shoes, you find yourself grounded in a pull strong as gravity in whose loving embrace you can walk buoyantly and with purpose to a place yet unknown to you.

in this space you might be guided to connect to beings who hold powers utterly different from yours– say, to fly– who are nothing like you, yet something like you, and yet are you, all at once. they might be guided by the same power to connect to you. and: the connection happens. and: the shift in both hearts in that recognition, the resonance of communion, something we might call power if only for the tenacious longing we have for it.

you might follow the paw-steps of someone who went before, magnetized by the same force of grace that pulls us all in our movements away and towards home, our expansions and contractions, our inhales and exhales, births and deaths, our infinite play, here and now-here, that engenders a whole universe of wonder. to that power, in gratitude and humility, I bow, again and, in the communal dance of our flow, again.

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