yamas, niyamas & bears… oh my!

a writer explores her place in the food chain, her back garden & her dreams

illustration by karen messer

excerpted from the print magazine…

Like many in the West, I began the practice of yoga exclusively as a physical experience. Gradually, however, what I thought of as a series of exercises began to influence more than just my physical body. I have grown more patient as I move my chin slowly and gradually toward the floor in Kurmasana, the Tortoise. The focus of my mind has sharpened in its intent as I have learned to balance in Bakasana, the Crane. These and other “animal” asanas have encouraged me to see yoga not just as fostering relationship with the Divine, but also with the world I inhabit. Yoga influences how I conduct myself and how I treat others around me.

Although there is no “bear” pose, I have contemplated the source and nature of the bear’s strength when I stand in Utkatasana, Fierce pose. Bears live all around me, usually unseen in the dense woods that spread up the steep sides of the valley where I live. I feel their presence when I walk in the woods, even when I have no tangible signs of them. Bears also follow me into my dreams, speaking to my inner world about the powerful nature of a soul’s capacity…

Eileen Delehanty Pearkes writes and practises Ashtanga Yoga in Nelson, BC. She writes more about bears in The Inner Green (2005), available through www.maapress.ca .

Copyright ©2007 ascent magazine, first Canadian yoga magazine, yoga for an inspired life