"But we are brave, and the new world awaits us."
v.32 | A practice for blooming into summer.
“It often seems easier to stay in winter, burrowed down into our hibernation nests, away from the glare of the sun. But we are brave, and the new world awaits us, gleaming and green, alive with the beat of wings.”
— Katherine May, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
Hello Yogafolk —
After a very long, wet, blustery winter, spring made herself heard in Northern California, screaming out excitement in poppies, wisteria, asters, birdsong, and crisp breezes. It’s now, and quite suddenly summer, and I feel like I should be jumping for joy, hopping up and down with my new, expanding self and belly, beaming with the internal light I’m growing, and the external light of our shared sun. But I’m not easily un-creaking, not waking up to the vigor of the warmer, brighter months after both a personal and cyclical winter.
Winter is heavy, and inert; it is all rot and quiescence; it is slowness and heft. Like śavāsana, it comes at the end of a cycle, and it can be hard to pull out of the molasses-like feeling.
But śavāsana isn’t a real death. It is a metaphorical embodiment of an inanimate corpse. In śavāsana, as in winter, we are not biologically dead. Instead, both corpse pose and winter introduce the opposite metaphor of death: living fully, widely awake. Stretching this metaphor a tad — rising from rest is to begin again, with eyes wide open.
Iyengar calls śavāsana “the most difficult of yoga āsanas to perfect.” It feels worth it though, since he adds that afterwards “the sādhaka is then born anew or emancipated” (2013: 233).
To rise from the feigned death of śavāsana, then, is not only to be reborn, but also freed. Death and birth are intertwined, winter inevitably connected to spring and summer.
Embodying the death of winter, completely, allows for a slow re-emergence into the fire seasons. Practicing sleepiness makes the transition into wakefulness a little smoother, rounder, gentler, feasible.
Below, a guided śavāsana practice. I recommend getting into your coziest lying-down pose (a few suggestions here and here), and let yourself rest, restore, relax. As you’re ready, rise rested, renewed, replenished, eager. Or. Just keep resting.
Wishing you the brightest of early summer days,
“I am going to make an effort to be lazier…I have no duty to dance.”
— Puerto Rican choreographer Nibia Pastrana Santiago
Scarlet the corpse flower (Amorphophallus Titanum) is expected to bloom within the week at San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers.
Corpse flowers only bloom for up to 48 hours once every few years, and when they do, they emit a pungent aroma meant to lure pollinators that are typically attracted to decaying carcasses. Follow along on i/g, or visit and smell Scarlet if you’re in town.
Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well loved one,
walk mindfully, well loved one,
walk fearlessly, well loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.
— Ursula K. LeGuin