Nexus Of A New Identity: Namaste

The dahina, tabla, and harmonium form a soothing melody as I enter the yoga room. Its compelling sound pours over me like waves from the ocean. I try to concentrate on my pose, but my mind tracks the music, so I follow the sound like a rising cobra hypnotized by its flier.

Mentally, I leave the room, and see myself on the beach preparing for a dive. I’m taken to my breathing routine: a deep breath in, a calm hold, and slow release. Breath is my vinyasa, my pose rides side-saddle tag-a-long.

I slow my heartbeat, ground my awareness, and focus on every sound. I’m still in class, but I’m also below waves of the Pacific Ocean. I pine to hear the whale, and imagine the sound from its massive heart. I leave the ocean, open my eyes, and rise to the surface coming back into the yoga room.

In the tapas of my practice and its link to muscle and sinew, a moment stretches into an hour, and my tribute to yogis who have gone before turns to a mantra from my ancestors.

“Lo, I see my fathers. Lo, I see my mothers, and my sisters, and my brothers. Lo, I see the long line of my people back to the beginning.” I recite the words to its resolution in a glorious vision of reunion.

Music settles me. I move at ease and stay in the room. My crucible – my mission – is a maddening and illogical movement which confounds the logical. It’s an unusual combination of Eastern pepper and Western salt.

The movement into more space in every bend and reach has created starch in my backbone. My mind and backbone hold even when superficial mythologies want to keep me unsatisfied I see the empty truth behind marketed public veneers and behind false wants, so I turn away and work to hone my mission. I’m in the middle of asana, twisting my spine and rounding new corners, when I realize I’m truly content. Santosha is my new word for this centering.

Yoga pulls and pushes my center, my breath; it’s the foundation of my inheritance, a transcendent DNA that moves me by degree and proves that my place, my contentment, is this old but new link welded into and onto me.

I embody my asana and rejoice in this rich shaping no matter how I fail. I do asana and continue working my flawed yet beautiful human project. I breathe and move, grateful for having discovered this missing link, this balm of body and mind from the past.

My practice is fluid – an hour passes – then my teacher beckons me to follow the way of gravity where I am absorbed like water in the desert. I breathe and trust what I hear in the sound of OM. A soft chant becomes a penultimate closing.

Suddenly I hear my teacher, dedicated and honorable, give her blessing. Her voice showers a lavish blessing upon the gathered yogis, one I accept. “May this practice give strength to your body, kindness and compassion to your heart, calm and clarity to your mind. Namaste.”

I let her word hold me as close as breath holds my life underwater and realize I’ve been waiting for this. It’s the nexus of a new identity; one that is not revealed but discovered. It was a spark, and now a fire animating the pulse of my heartbeat and electrifying my synapses.

It’s a jolt of reliable chemistry that’s showered me with wholeness and connected me to the strength, clarity, kindness, and compassion of her honorable bow to all of us. I take it in, and realize the nexus of my new identity formed from root to crown. I bow, and offer a soft word in return, Namaste.

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Gregory Ormson

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Gregory Ormson saw yoga during his first trip to India 40 years ago. He teaches at MOTTO YOGA in Queen…

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