We spent a significant part of last month in yoga class doing hip openers in order to practice our virabhadrasana II (warrior pose). I've always loved that pose: it's named after an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger's skin, and when I'm standing there, grounded, arms out, feet spread, I feel powerful. To practice it correctly, though, is a challenge. I consider myself pretty open in the hips (I have a dancer's "turnout"), but even for me, after the third week of holding a block against the wall with my knee in vriskhasana, I was actually having a hard time walking around after class.
The practice of the month made me appreciate, though, the necessary coexistence of the seemingly antithetical positions of openness and either defense or aggression. We often think of warriors as people who take a position and hold it firmly, who are closed-minded, driven, bent on their own goals. But yoga reminds us that the strongest warriors are also people who are open to their opponents; who stand firmly, feeling the ground firmly under their feet, but who can accept otherness and perhaps even respond based on the actions of their opponent. There's a definite vulnerability to virabhadrasana II; while you focus on what's in front of you, and your arms and legs are spread wide, your body is completely open.
How many times have I assumed "fight" stance in a closed way? And how much more powerful might I have been if I'd been flexible, open, strong but still willing to be vulnerable?
We were talking about leadership and conflict in the youth group I work with on Sunday, and one of them said something truly inspiring: she said that she used to be a much more angry and aggressive person, but she's come to believe that if something or someone is persistent enough to find its way into her life, that she should receive it as a gift, with thanks, even if she doesn't like them and doesn't agree with them. It was an impressive, inspiring thing to say for someone who is only 15, even if she doesn't technically live that belief all the time.
I'm waging quite a few battles of my own these days. Perhaps a change of stance is in order.
What are your battles? Have you tried being open? And if so, have you found it a more effective approach?
(This recipe is good for the days when you're battling against the
clock to put dinner on the table. My husband didn't like it because it
has coconut oil in it (though you could easily sub in another fat), my
son wanted to eat mostly cornbread, and my daughter picked out the black
beans, but I still think it's a good recipe for "clean" eating, which is another war many of us wage on a daily basis.)
Vegetarian Tamale Pie
(a recipe for the crockpot)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz box diced tomatoes
1 8-oz pkg sliced baby Portobello mushrooms
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 large zucchini, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp chile powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups whole-grain yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups skim milk (almond milk or soy milk is OK)
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
In a 5-6 quart slow cooker combine garlic, tomatoes and accompanying juices, mushrooms, onion, jalapeño, zucchini, bell pepper, beans, chile powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Stir to combine, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
Increase slow cooker heat to high. Meanwhile, prepare cornmeal batter: In a medium bowl, whisk cornmeal and baking powder. In a large glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk egg, milk, oil and vinegar. Add to cornmeal mixture and stir to combine. Stir in cheddar.
Remove lid from slow cooker. Pour cornmeal mixture over top of vegetable mixture and spread evenly to form a crust. Place a clean dish towel over top of slow cooker and replace lid, resting over top of towel (this will prevent condensation from wetting the surface of the cornmeal crust). Cook for 1 hour, until cornbread sets. Remove lid and towel and slice into wedges.