by Holly Walck, devoted Iyengar yoga student and teacher
Do you know that saying, “Don’t tempt the fates”? Well, in my last blog I asserted that a dedicated yoga practice had seated me in gratitude, which leads to contentment. I’d already planned my next assignment, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, to explore the concept of thankfulness. And the fates were about to hold my grateful, contented feet to the fire.
On Friday November 1, 2013, I was in Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles International Airport when a 23-year-old man, armed with an semi-automatic assault rifle, walked in through the doors closest to where I was standing and opened fire, killing the TSA agent who was not more than 30 feet away from me. Seven hours of unthinkable moments later, I was released from the airport and made my way on foot, out through the closed-off streets and then by taxi through the congested but open roads to Venice, where my distraught husband had been waiting all day.
The reunion was sweet and surreal. We were both stunned by what had been our reality since last seeing each other earlier that morning. Immediately upon arriving home, we went into the yoga studio and spent the next three hours holding hands while lying next to one another in various supported yoga poses, opening our gripped diaphragms, allowing our breath and prana (life-force energy) to begin to flow freely again inside our bodies. As the shock began to wear off, what we felt in those first precious hours can only be described as pure thankfulness.
Thankfulness is defined as “the ability to express gratitude or appreciation.” I knew that the abiding contentment my yoga practice had graced me with stemmed from gratitude, but this experience left me with a desire to know where my ability to be grateful came from. So I went on an inner exploration, which embarked at gratitude and followed it to its source, arriving at what I call “the fullness of presence.”
In his book Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar says that the practice of yoga “liberates one from fear, including even the fear of death…when the brain lets go of its fears and desires it dwells neither on the past, nor the future, but inhabits the present.” What follows is a sequence inspired by Guruji’s statement above and the words my teacher often says at the end of class: “Supported by our past, seated in the present, we open to the future.”
Hari OM Tat Sat
(“All that is the truth”),
A Yoga Sequence for Affirming the Presence of Fullness
- Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) flowing to Intense Stretch of the Sides (Parsvottanasana) Vinyasa
- 3 Limbs Face One Foot Intense Stretch of the West Pose (Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana)
- Sage Pose (Marichyasana I)
- Garland Pose (Malasana I)
- Revolved Seated Angle Pose (Parivrtta Upavistha Konasana, variation)
- Reclining Cross-Legs Pose (Supta Swastikasana)