Dancing in the Dark

Last week the Facebook algorithm asked me if I cared to remember this post from four years ago.

Due to waking up too early in the morning I’ve started doing my practice in the dark, next to my bed. If you’ve never done yoga in the dark, try it! There’s something so peaceful, so restorative and refreshing and so challenging about moving and balancing in total darkness. Grateful for this experience.

I wrote this when I was eight, almost nine months pregnant and find it hilarious. And also true. With the exception of the few months out of the year when it’s light between 5:30 – 6:30am, most of my asana practice takes place in darkness.

Practicing before dawn presents several challenges. First is the monumental task of getting out of bed. Second, I’m not as limber that early in the morning so many of the advanced asanas are out of rotation. Third, balance poses are much more difficult in the dark.

Practicing in darkness also has its advantages. There is a lack of external stimuli. No light assaults the retinas; no sound assaults the ears. Because balancing is a challenge with no clear point of visual focus, I reach out for help – to my chair, the window, the lampshade. I am often too self-reliant. In the dark I have the opportunity, whether I take it or not, to surrender the need to look or move or be a certain way. Also, I get to stay in my pajamas.

In spite of its benefits, if I had my druthers I’d sleep until sunrise and practice in the light. Now that we are approaching Spring and moving into the time of year when my practice will be a in sync with daybreak. It will be a little easier to get out of bed. A little easier to move. A little easier to balance.

I’m curious how my body and soul will respond to the rhythm of Spring this year. March to early April, and Mid-May are “danger zones” for me. The return of light and life to the Earth, while delicious, can be too energizing. This is the time of year when I more prone to mania. When I sleep less, get wired, grow irritable, am really excited about life and all the things I can do in a day. It’s fun at first. Then the irritability grows; thoughts race faster and faster; songs play on repeat and grow louder and louder in my head until I cover my ears to block out the noise. I can’t sleep past 4 and I’m too tired but to “up” to come down. Until I do. And then I crash.

This March, I hope things will be different. I have finally found a medicine that works to keep this under control and which I can tweak as needed. I have a mid-month appointment with my acupuncturist who will help keep my nervous system in check. I have restorative asana, vigorous asana, and running. I have death meditation.

My Lenten death meditation has taken an interesting turn and become a mantra, “Everything that has a birth has a death, and I am no exception.”

This is such a relief. This is the peace of practicing yoga in darkness. This is the gift. To remember that all the worries and joys and trials, no matter how large, will pass. To know deep in the bones that everything that has a life has a rhythm. Everything that goes up will come down. Everything that is light will become dark; everything that is dark will one day become light. And we are no exception.

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

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