I am reading and delighting in Stephen Cope’s book The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living – a very warm, personal and et scholarly take on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

There’s lots (too much) to reflect on and write about this book, but here is a passage I want to share. It is a person’s experience in triangle pose (incidentally, one of my favorite poses):

… When I moved down into Triangle Pose, I slowly turned my head upward to gaze along my outstretched, reaching left arm. Energy kicked in again, and I felt my body light up like one of those energy charts on the wall at my acupuncturist. I felt all the lines of energy from my left foot up through my spine, and then through the crown of my head, from my sternum up through my left arm and simultaneously down through my right arm which reached toward the ground.

It was the reaching that did it, I think. Reaching up out of the center. Up toward heaven, down toward earth. With my heart and sternum open. And feeling my legs and abdomen so strong. I dropped my left shoulder slightly back, and this opened my sternum and heart even more.

In a flash, I felt energy stream through my arms and legs, pumping blood and heat. The hard shell of my body melted into liquid light, and there was no more posture. Only energy and light and heat and pulsing and oxygen. No me. No effort. No form. Just life. There was no more reaching now – or at least I was not the one doing it. Only a kind of effortless streaming. …

One of the reasons I love triangle pose is because of the deep stretch in my back. But the more important reason, I think, is because of the way it makes me feel. I love the feeling of grounding and rooting safely through the legs while flying my arm upward and opening my heart to the experience. I love the expansiveness of this pose – it helps me grow in all directions, while keeping a safe, strong, and grounded center. I have very rarely had the experience of feeling the energy signature of a pose. It requires being very still and present, and all of a sudden, there is more to a pose than muscle and effort – there is a signature emotional state and a precise meaning that eludes my words, however.

I am not saying that we should practice asana looking for and hoping for these extraordinary experiences. I am  just saying that we should be open to the possibility that they might happen. And that the stretch of a limb might be much more than that – it might be moving energy in that direction.

Have you had any experience of energy while practicing asana? Please share!


Triangle pose description and instructions from Greenville Yoga and from Yoga Journal (the latter with video).