“You’re in a terrible spot. It’s too late for you to retreat but too soon to act. All you can do is witness. You’re in the miserable position of an infant who cannot return to the mother’s womb, but neither can he run around and act. All an infant can do is witness and listen to the stupendous tales of action being told to him. You are at that precise point now. You cannot go back to the womb of your old world, but you cannot act with power either. For you there is only witnessing acts of power and listening to tales of power.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Integration through Assymetric Postures

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My current practice includes numerous assymetric postures. These are postures in which one side of the body is placed in a different position then the other. They are usually performed in sequences in which both sides of the body are practiced – either in alternating form or in separate sets of movement.

One of the assymetric postures in my practice is Janusirsana – an assymetric forward bend in which one leg is folded in and the other streched straight. I practice each side and then a similar symmetric posture (Pascimatanasana) in which both legs are stretched straight. Here is a simplified version of this sequence:

Assymetric postures are an opportunity to observe differences between two sides of the body. In a seated posture sequence like this you may observe differences in leg stretches, in hip movement, in the lower back, etc. My spine feels the same on both sides but sometimes I experience a tension in my lower back on the left side. Stiffness in my lower back sometimes translates into stiffness in my shoulders. My right hip feels more open and dynamic then my left hip. My left leg is more stretchy then my right leg.

Having a symmetric posture following the assymetric sequence is good practice. For the body it recreates a sense of center and balance between the two sides. But what is more interesting to me is what happens in the mind. If I was present and observant in the assymetric practices – then I sometimes also find I am curious to see how the two will come together. How will the tension in my left-lower-back, my stretchy right leg and less stretchy left leg come together? The symmetric posture then becomes an experience of integration.

For me, it isn’t usually a comprehensible/analytical understanding (that would take me out of the experience itself) – but an appreciation of how the body is naturally capable of bringing it all together into a fluid and integrated movement. It is a reminder to me that my body is more then my mind can comprehend and that without my mind I wouldn’t be able to appreciate my body.

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