THE LAST FIVE MINUTES at the end of an exhilarating yoga class have always been my favorite experience in the yoga practice. These last moments are devoted to the Shavasana pose, also known as the Corpse pose, which means lying face up with arms extended alongside the body and legs lengthened long on the floor. This pose rejuvenates body, mind, and spirit at the end of a class and I use this still time to process the movement, difficulties, and new awakenings I have endured throughout the last hour of my yoga practice. As my head rests on the floor and my eyes close gently, the words of the instructor begin to flow and transform into an energy that I feel permeate my skin. “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world.” I gently feel a sandbag land over my eyes, as my instructor’s voice gets louder.
“Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be. [A quote] by Pantanjali.” I lie still, allowing the presence of this new energy to flow freely throughout my body and mind, until I felt the remains sink deep into my mat, which I roll up, as if to hold on to these wise words, and exit onto the busy street in downtown Boston.
My favorite yoga teacher in Boston, where I attended college for two years, would share a quote during the Shavasana pose at the end of every class. While some days the words would enter one ear and flow out the other, this quote resonated in my soul that day.
The few months prior to hearing this life-changing quote I had been feeling frustrated and limited with my academic options in school. I was on a track to study communication disorders, a very specific major; it was a track that started my senior year in high school. After taking the required classes for two years I had a new, growing fascination for the world of scientific thought, specifically human development and the connection of the mind and body. These interests were unable to be fulfilled at a communication and performing arts school, and while I entertained the possibility of transferring schools, a drastic change seemed unnecessary within the short four years of college.
Yet, on that breezy, overcast day in Boston, something clicked. The Pantanjali quote perfectly answered my frustrations and uncertainties. Inspiration flooded every inch of myself, and I knew I must allow myself to discover a new world. Pantanjali expresses the incredible experience of feeling passion. It is freeing and beautiful to be inspired by a purpose or a goal—when forces and talents, which you never knew existed, reach their full potential.
I decided to leave my school a week after this yoga class. I couldn’t stop from reading it over and over again as if it was my own mantra. I am now on a new path, I’ve moved across the country, I’m interning, taking classes, and teaching, seeking enlightenment in all areas of my life. I continue to look back at this quote whenever I feel hesitation. I let it permeate my skin like I did so many months ago; it allows me to listen to myself and absorb the magic from the world around me as I take the next step in this journey.
This article appeared in the December 2010 issue of In Dance.