Yoga and the Cycle of Life

At the end of a free beginner’s class at Core Power Yoga, the teacher gave an explanation of the sequence we’d just done. After 75 minutes of grueling yoga work, I always find myself in deep relaxation during the final savasana (resting) pose. At that point in this week’s class, James offered an explanation that I found compelling, from a spiritual practice point of view. I recorded a short interview with him afterward that I’d love to share with you.

D: What were the names of the asanas (poses) series that we did in class today. I remember that we started with Child’s Pose, which is like the beginning of life.

J: It’s like the beginning of life, because you’re closed to the world and you’re kind of sheltered. And then you move into all fours, and you kind of move around and warm up from there. Then you move into a kind of huddled over learning-to-stand position. You’re a rag doll, and then slowly you come up to standing position. That’s the first series, that’s called Integration. The second series is called Surya Namaskar A, which is a Sun Salutation Series, and the first A Sun Series is, well, kind of crude. You do Mountain, Forward Fold, and you step to the Planks and lower positions.

D: More gross movements…

J: Gross movements, yes, and opening up the front lines of the body as well as the back lines of the body. After that series, which is akin to learning how to move, we move into the second series-which is more rigorous. That’s the Sun Salutation B. That has the Warrior stances in it. So there you’re opening up your inner thighs through the Warrior series. You’re learning to open up the side body, so it’s a more rigorous. There’s a bit more physical play as we work on opening up the body.

After that we moved into the Crescent Lunge series. This is where you have the twists, and a little bit of balancing. What we find there is more open body twists, so it has more sophistication. And, it requires more consciousness.

D: More refined movements…

J: More refined movements, and more attention to detail. But there are still big movements, there are still larger aspects to the forms. At the end of these you play with Crow, which is your arm balance asana. So you’re getting upside down and you’re kind of coming to the peak maybe of what is going to be physically demanding of you. From there you move into Balancing Series. The Balancing Series is still more refined. But it’s kind of slowing things down a little bit. There you’re finding the subtlety of movement. You’re finding how to exist a little bit softer, yet stay upright. After that you start to open up even more through the Triangle Series. The Triangle Series is really about letting go. And it’s about coming down with gravity and preparing yourself for the floor.

Finally the last bit is a spine strengthening or floor series. In that you’re just learning to kind of iron out all the kinks that you might’ve missed along the way as you open up your body and prepare yourself for the last little bit, which is —

D: I think at that point you said something like “touch the spots that you missed.”

J: Yeah, it’s a good time to do that. There are couple of spots right before the end of the sequence where you’re doing stuff on your back. It’s kind of a slowing down through spinal twists. Then the last part of the cycle is coming into Corpse posture. In this posture, you lie down. It is there where you’re so that you’re finally able to let go… at the end. Just like our lives.
D: I like to be able to let go at the end of my life as well as in yoga class, for sure! Now at what point in the cycle of life is that yoga breakdancing move that we did?

J: (laughs) That’s in the teenage years cycle..haha.

D: (laughs) Awesome, thank you.

Special thanks to Tashi Rana for transcribing this interview. Tashi teaches classes on nutrition here in Portland, Oregon.