No, I’m not talking about potatoes and chicken.
To me, “roots and wings” symbolize the equal yet opposite energy forces in my yoga practice. When I teach, I spend a lot of time talking about our roots, our foundation. We spend time focusing on our feet and legs…those pillars of granite that support our poses. Without roots, there is no place of strength from which to grow, no foundation from which to then spread our wings and fly.
Most people who know me would describe me as “steady”, “dependable” and “balanced”. I like that. I like to think that I do what I say and I am a true friend who can be counted on. Not surprisingly, some of my favorite poses are the standing asanas–Warriors, Triangle, and the ever-grounding Downward Facing Dog. And although it is good to have one’s feet firmly planted on the earth, too many roots can crowd the pot and eventually inhibit healthy growth. Have you ever had a plant that outgrew it’s container? When you finally get around to transplanting it you can see the myriad of roots winding round and round, literally choking the life out of the plant.
And so it is with our yoga practice. And so it is with life.
When I looked up the word “stability” in my dog-eared Thesaurus, I noticed that along with positive adjectives such as “steadfast” it also went on to list words such as “obstinate”, “stuck” and “unchangeable”. Oh my. And right there in front of me, printed in black and white, I saw my yoga practice. I was reminded of my fear to take both feet off the ground in inversions and arm balances. As strong and steady and grounded as I am, my yoga practice shows me that without risk and challenge, I will wither and cease to blossom. I don’t want to do that.
So, this fall, rather than retreating and preparing for the dormancy of winter, I choose to bloom. I know I already have an amazing root system. I know I’ve built a foundation strong enough to withstand whatever comes my way…windstorms, heavy frost, and even falling on my face in Crow. I will willingly put myself in situations that stir up that feeling of discomfort…those situations that have me eyeing the exit door. But I won’t bolt. My yoga practice has taught me, over and over again, that if I stay and remain present breath by breath, I will be rewarded with amazing growth. And yes, I may even spread my wings and feel my feet lift off the ground!
Won’t you join me? Go ahead and feel your feet in Mountain Pose. But begin to let yourself feel the joy and buoyancy of lifting off in handstand hops. Rather than moan and groan when the teacher says “Crow Pose”, allow a sense of play and discovery to take over. I know my yoga practice reflects my life and how I live it. With that in mind, I can’t wait to flap my wings and fly, knowing I can always return to earth.