By Anne Falkowski
Anyone can do Warrior Two pose. Anyone who can stand on their legs. Even fat girls.
The first time I held Warrior Two, and I mean really held it, till sweat beaded on my bare back and shoulders like jewelry and heat rose up from my toes and lapped my insides with fire, I felt so beautiful for one slice of brief moment. I imagined I glistened like a night star soaked with moonlight. I was not fat.
But I thought I was.
My whole life, I thought I was fat. Sometimes I was, squeezing my sausage flesh into size 18’s and sometimes I wasn’t, with size 8 Gap jeans falling down on my hips.
But to a girl, who has a long time been a woman, with body hatred that stained her before age 12, true size is irrelevant. Those of us who obsess on the appearance of our body are a secret club of sisters (and brothers) who have become kin to Alice. We have been down in the hole for so long, we no longer know what is real. More importantly we don’t know ourselves, where we begin or end, and how to climb out. We only know how to measure our own sense of worth, black and white, good and bad, with broken rulers.
We are piles of flesh, food and shame.
Some will read this and say I am being overly dramatic. Focus on something more important like starving children. They are much more worthy of our attention. I agree.
But you can’t focus on things more worthy when you are stuck in the pit of your own unworthiness at the most primal level.
There is nothing more primal then our own body. Our bodies get sick, heal, taste, smell, see, hear, fight, love and feel. They feel anger, joy, lust and fear. When we don’t pay attention to our bodies, we disconnect from what is happening in the present moment and live in the limits of our mind.
A yoga teacher once said the only thing we know for certain in each moment is the rise and fall of our breath and the sensation we feel in our bodies.
This is the only truth and everything else is a story. Everything else. My fat girl doesn’t live in the truth of her body. She lives in the drama of her story. But to climb out of story she has to relearn how to live in her body in a truthful and compassionate way.
Warrior Two is a foundational pose.
Foundational because you are standing on your own two legs. Anyone can do it. Its not just for the uber-flexible or the advanced yogi. No matter who you are and how much yoga you have done, this pose will become challenging when held for longer than a few breaths.
Warrior Two is a grounding pose.
Yoga poses are done in bare feet for a reason. To feel the ground which is always underneath us and to remind us that we are a part of it. Plus bare feet make it easier to stay in place and not slip or fall. Although falling would not be the end of the world. Everyone has to fall sometime.
Hold Warrior Two and eventually you will feel heat in your inner legs and thighs. Maybe just a little at first, but wait, more will come. The warmth will seem to come up from the ground and swell throughout your whole body and will eventually lead to sweat.
Heat and sweat are desirable in yoga. Don’t bail. Stay on the mat. By staying, you are mixing your discipline with inner brilliance. Pressure and heat. This is how diamonds are made.
Warrior Two is not a pose for the weak.
It requires grounding, stamina and hugging muscle to the bone. It demands strong quads and arms and a connection to our bellies. It requires the breath. The breath with a capital B, not a meager small one. Without full deep breaths, Warrior Two deadens. It is no longer a fighter. Its weary.
But the thing about Warrior Two is it cannot be all strength and stabilization, or it becomes rigid and inflexible. It will drain you. It requires an openness. A willingness to let in ease and comfort.
The poet Jane Kenyon wrote, “God will not leave you comfortless.”
Maybe it is only ourselves who leave us comfortless.
Patanjali, the father of yoga, said the poses should be both steady and comfortable. That is the only thing he wrote about the physicality of the poses out of hundreds of verses on how to do yoga. So it must be crucial. Steady meaning rock the pose. Hold it firmly. No one can push you over. You look out over your third finger and you are fierce. A don’t mess with me attitude. Don’t fuck with me. I can handle what ever life brings my way. I have to. But if I want to be a yogi, I can’t just push my way through the hard stuff.
What about the comfort? It is true, we are directly responsible for our own comfort. To find it, the yogi has to listen. She has to have the courage to let go of being in charge of everything that is happening in her life at each moment and trust. She has to let go of being perfect and blaming herself or others when things don’t go her way. She has to stop hiding behind whatever tale of woe she has spent her life cultivating and trust that she will be found.
The interior battle is to have faith that if she lets go of the edge of what is known, she will not come crashing down. She must believe that no matter what is happening, it is okay to be both strong and soft. Continue Reading…