the secret behind the seal

hatha yoga, nature & symbology

I began the process of deciphering what my body conveyed in the summer of 1987. I began to reflect and write about what I was observing, feeling and thinking while engaged with the poses. My journals show slow progress in learning to connect with the symbolic messages of my yoga practice. The messages were coming, but I had difficulty accepting them or trusting them to be valid. Jung noted that the modern mind views the analogies of symbolic association as "self-evident absurdities." This describes the way my own logic often rebelled at finding significance in what seemed either obvious or creative thought associations.

I recorded the feelings and thoughts that emerged while in the pose and can now recognize how these phrases encapsulated and mirrored what was happening in daily life. Then, I rarely caught the connection. A good example of this was my relationship to the Forward Bend. This pose had always been an uncomfortable one, where I strained to reach further, felt my breathing restricted, and experienced a sense of limitation, being held back. I asked the question: "What is the hump, the obstacle, that I have to get over in my life?" In my journal, I wrote: I feel this hump on my back, like straining on a leash. I don't know what it is. I don't like this sense of holding. During this period, my daily journal shows repeated reference to a sense of being stuck, feeling constrained and restricted in my life, and being frustrated at not knowing what to do to change this, not being able to see clearly.

It took some time before I began to really connect with the information coming from my body, and realize that it was informing me, it was communicating with me. I gradually comprehended that my body held a wisdom, and that in working with the symbols of the asanas, so many of them closely connected with the natural world, I was learning the language of my body.

Alanda Greene grew up in southern Alberta but has lived in the forests of the Kootenay mountains for the last 28 years, practising and learning from Hidden Language Yoga, and other symbolic forms of reflection and exploration. Her major passions are mountains, music, gardens, yoga, friends on the way, dogs on walks, poetry of Rumi and Hafiz, and writing. She has just retired from being an educator in the public school system for 24 years. She often longs for the prairies.

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