Sunday, May 3, 2009
Jala means water. Namskar is a deep honoring, a sequence of bows. In most yoga classes, we regularly perform Surya Namaskar, or sun salutations. You may recognize Namas as the first part of Namaste, the word we honor each other with at the end of practice which essentially means, “I honor the Divine in you.” So, Jala Namaskar is the act of celebrating the essential fluid nature of things that are. Its about riding the wave.
The energetic junctions in the body are called Chakras. These spots also relate to certain elements or qualities. The second Chakra, physically located in the lower abdomen, relates to our ability to creatively ride the wave of life. Its element, therefore, is water, Jala.
A month or so ago, I spent some time swimming in the ocean. As I was learning to body board, the ocean taught me something powerful. It told me quite matter-of-factly, “We can either be partners and dance, or I can kill you.” And it was true. I learned again that there was enough power in one wave to obliterate me from the planet, let alone the eternity of waves in cue behind it.
As I would swim on my body board searching for waves, close waves would begin to crash down and I had to dive under the wave and let it pass over me. I spent hours, frustrated and water-logged, trying to learn how to dance with the waves, learning how to move against them and learning how to let them carry me.
I also learned that to swim in the ocean is to learn the lovers’ dance of rise and fall, of motion and breath, each wave expressing an endless pulse.
In the distance I would see a wave begin to swell and even from afar I could feel its immensity. Its fluid force was both ominous and inviting as it rushed toward me, closer and closer. Like all events of existence, the yet unseen outcome of these moments had already been set in motion. And like the ocean itself, all events have always been in motion. I felt stagnate floating in the ocean, hovering in something that is in constant flux. I was stale immobility, vulnerable to the eternal motion of the sea, this force that is both savior and at the same time the destroying angel. Soon, the wave was almost upon me. Its pregnant crest had risen to such a zenith, its motion in such a climax, that as I lay on my board watching this wall of water approach me, I shivered with the tight anticipation of a wave that would inevitably crash its dense, rushing weight in a solid, blunt roar and quickly consume anything it found in weak opposition.
It was here. Its jaws gaped toward me and I swam like hell, pulling, kicking, fighting against the water to somehow contend with this fierce, beautiful woman, the ocean-water, Jala. And then it happened. I somehow slipped or pulled myself into its graces and it lifted me. I stopped struggling and it carried me in its breath as we flew together through space in the lovers dance. We were dancing together. Nothing else existed, not sun, not earth, not wind, just me and water as it cupped me in its curled palm moving together in space without time, in the fluid motion of things as they are.
Join me and my friend Aki Rich this Friday night (ccy 7:30) as we explore Jala Namaskar and learn to mirror each other in the dance of fluid balance.