There is a widespread and well-known image in Indian Tantric art: Lord Shiva lies inert and corpselike on the earth while the Goddess Shakti dances wildly on his body. He is all potentiality, all mind-space, she is all fluid energy. Together they symbolize the wholeness of universal life, the perfect union of still mind and vibrant matter.
One of the goals of any authentic yoga practice is to connect the latent intelligence of the body with its vitalizing energy. How can we use our asana and pranayama practice to disclose and nourish this hidden connection?
Energy implies movement, but all movement is born out of the womb of stillness. In stillness lies the template of the body-mind, which gives shape to the poses, but the poses really only come alive when you add the potency of the breath. When you practice a sequence of linked poses, moving slowly and rhythmically from pose to pose, with close attention to both alignment and the breath, you begin to give shape to Shakti and life to Shiva.
Start by letting the breath set the pace and establish the rhythm. Breathe slowly, through the nose and from the belly. If you move too quickly or too aggressively, you will only create a harsh exterior, like a shell or dry crust, that the breath and awareness cannot penetrate. Then the depth of the poses can never be grasped, or even glimpsed. But with slow, rhythmical moving from pose to pose, there is time for the mind, like water, to soak into the depths of the pose, where the body’s latent intelligence, like DNA, is only awaiting the vitalizing spark of the moving breath to bring your practice to life.
Linking your poses in this way, slowly and fluidly, can be like practicing alchemy. Breathe fully, stay fully aware. Observe whatever emerges. Practice. Be thankful.