it's all yoga!

swami lalitananda goes on a walk & finds asanas in the most unexpected places

swami radhananda

I have to admit that I’ve been struggling to write this last column for the final issue of ascent. How do I say thank you for the opportunity, the growing together, the gifts, the vision and the challenges? Thank you for letting me tell my stories and share these teachings. Thank you to the readers for connecting. I sincerely mean these things, but can words say it?

And how do I end? Should I write an overview? Or what about a series?

This last issue is on union, so I could explore my interconnected personality aspects, like the one who insists on discipline and the one who runs from it; the one with all the ideas and the one who knows it’s time to commit; the hardliner, the adventurer. I know how they play off each other but arise from a central essence, and it is that essence that lifts me out of conflict to clarity.

Today, I say to myself. I must write the article. I will stay home, concentrate, and complete it. But just at this moment, the sun breaks through—dazzling, beautiful, uplifting. For days, the city of Vancouver has disappeared in fog, and now, outside my window, buildings are silently reforming, taking on weight, substance. There is brilliance and hope.

An urgency arises. The ocean and mountains want me to watch them come out of hiding. I need to drop everything and see the world be reborn! It is a celebration. I’ll bring my notebook. I will seize the moment and write from experience.

On the way to the seawall, the fog thickens until I arrive at an oceanless beach enclosed in a mass of grey. Cold, damp, with limited vision, I walk and wonder, How do I trick myself? Isn’t this the fog of mental confusion?

It is bone-chilling cold so I find an inviting coffeehouse and jot down ideas: how the column has led me to conferences and people who love Swami Radha’s teachings; how I live yoga through uniting writing/work/life/practice. I take a moment to review images in my mind: like today’s invisible but present mountains, and my recent journey on the mountain highway half-covered in avalanche snow and slushy ice, where survival means going without stopping until I get through.

When I leave the coffeehouse and walk to the beach, light is starting to sparkle on the nearby waves. Puffs of white mist separate and open up patches of calm blue sky that act as if they were always there. I gasp as a big bridge emerges, like a message, softly shrouded and magnificent, spanning the gap. Sitting on a rock warming in the sunshine, I watch as the bridge slowly becomes solid.

Yes, I understand the part of me that resists and tries to get away. I know the part that can focus and get through even the most dangerous situation. But there is a bridge between them, a middle way of acceptance. As the sun burns through the cloud, there is an otherworldly beauty, a mystical sense of in-between—where I don’t have to judge right and wrong but can learn from where I am. I am in the glow of light, with softly shrouded images becoming real. I am allowing intuition to lead the way and observing what emerges.

Turning to look behind me, I see the mountains arising
from the mist. I reflect on my own ascent—a gradual process, always there.

I was startled to see the symbolism of the asanas revealed in this experience. My initial position was firm and strong, like the Mountain. “I will stay in and write today.” But then the Light shone and this strong idea was turned upside down by its radical opposite—“I have to go out”— the Headstand. In the fog, as if wrapped in the veils of maya, I wandered at a loss. In the café, the original intention came back—it didn’t matter whether I was inside or outside; focus on the project. The Bridge brought the message to find the way between extremes—lighten and lift up. With perspective, the entire journey was like a Sitting Forward Bend—learning to accept and gradually move toward unity—above and below, inside and outside.

It is all yoga, I say! Doing the poses and understanding them symbolically or doing life and understanding the postures within it. Either way, yoga works!


Think about union in your life and use the series of asanas to understand the dynamics and interconnections between parts of yourself. How do the poses come alive in your life?

  1. The Mountain pose (Tadasana): Take a stand. Observe the feeling of your stand. Where are you? What are you working with?
  2. Headstand (Salamba Shirshasana): Move into the Headstand or any upside-down position. Challenge your own convictions, taking the opposite view. Ask yourself, What is true?
  3. Little Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana): Can you see how the two opposites are linked? What is the bridge between them?
  4. Sitting Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): As you move forward, practice patience and accepting yourself. Invoke a feeling of gratitude for your progress.

Swami Lalitananda's latest book,The Inner Life of Asanas,is a collection of her hidden language hatha yoga columns, from timeless books . She is a resident teacher and part of the collective at radha yoga & eatery - a yoga centre, cafe, arts and events venue at 728 Main Street in Vancouver, BC. Contact her at .

   read more of swami lalitananda's past columns

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