Yoga: The Practice of Being at the Crossroads

By Scott Moore, Conscious Life News

The CrossroadsThe crossroads is a magical place. It’s the place where the ethereal, spiritual, and philosophical meets the physical, real, and practical. Where these two roads intersect is the holy ground of transformation, it’s the place where we have to drop our one-track thinking and see the many roads. Practicing yoga means to be at the crossroads.

One legend of the Crossroads involves the King of the Blues, Robert Johnson. It is said that one night, deep in the South, the Delta, Robert Johnson left home and as the clock struck midnight, he found himself standing with his axe (blues-speak for guitar) at the intersection between here and there, now and then, this way and that way. There he found the Devil who showed him what was possible with a guitar and told him he would never amount to anything unless he sold his soul in exchange for learning how to play the guitar like nobody’s business.

Robert Johnson weighed his options and cashed in his soul (or maybe found it) by making the deal with the devil. He threw his guitar over his shoulder and walked down the road to there, possibility, and everything, giving up on the roads from there, safe comfortable, and the predictable. As he strutted down the road he said to the Devil, “I am the blues.”

These crossroads don’t only involve the devil and the blues. Crossroads exist all over the place, wherever the other world meets this one, wherever the spirit world meets the physical one. Places like churches, temples, and holy sites. Your yoga mat is a crossroads. It’s like a tabernacle, what ancient people used as a traveling temple. Your yoga mat is the traveling temple where spirit and body meet to show you what’s possible inside of you. And yes, I’ve meet the devil there before. I’ve seen him in sitting on my tight hip in kapatasana, pigeon pose; on my steel hamstrings in hanumanasana, the splits pose; and I’ve seen him doing a victory dance on my quivering raised leg in that damned standing splits pose. I’ve come face to face with my physical limitations, yes, but also with my own neurosis, my deepest fears, self-limiting thoughts, and deep, deep wells of grief. I’ve seen that everything is linked to everything else. I’ve meet the divine on my mat as well.  I see regular joy in handstands, pleasure and peace in savasana, fun in transitions, and possibilities in postures. I get regular hits of insight, of purpose, and a deep sense of belonging. Most importantly, at the crossroads of where physical meets spiritual, I get regular glimpses of the real who and what I am.

Robert Johnson sold his soul, meaning he gave up the simple, naïve way of seeing the world for a richer, more comprehensive and real view of the world. And for us to experience the larger view of ourselves we have to give up something. I believe instead of selling our soul, we sell the armor that protects us from experiencing only the good, the simple, and the happy. I believe that sometimes we must walk down the roads of grief, struggle, and pain to see how immensely beautiful life is.  It’s the larger view. It’s the view of heaven and it will cost you your life. At least, the way you’ve been living it before now. And you can never go back. But in the end after seeing what’s possible, would you want to?

In yoga, the deity dedicated to the Crossroads is Ganesha, the elephant headed god. Part elephant, part human, his parents are Shiva, the personification of consciousness, and Shakti, the personification of embodiment. His stance is half-lotus, with one foot on the ground and his other foot raised to the heavens as a gesture representing the balance of both. Ganesha is the god of auspicious beginnings. With his axe, he clears your path of obstacles, and reminds you of your Dharma, your way. Plus, just like Robert Johnson, he wields his axe down at the Crossroads.

One lesson Ganesha teaches is that whenever you’re deliberating over a decision about where to go next, whether or not to take that job, or if you should stay in your current relationship, go inward first. Connect your body with your heart. Tap into your spiritual being to give insight to your physical being. And vice versa. If you’re looking to improve your spiritual practice or further your awakening path, start by cleansing and strengthening your body. Thus is the magic of the Crossroads.

This week, meet yourself at the crossroads expect to meet your both your demons and your angels, that place where heaven meets earth.

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in Salt Lake City, Utah and when he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to trail run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son.

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