‘Art’ and ‘Yoga’ share common space in me. For over a decade they have remained neighbors, the kind that respect each other and have the occasional interaction. One might knock on the other’s door for a bit of ‘1/2 ‘n’ 1/2′ for the morning coffee (um, that would be Art), yet the two haven’t been swapping clothes, loaning lawnmowers, or sharing movie nights on each other’s couches. But something happened this week, and while I have been busy with stuff, Art and Yoga decided they were going to try cohabiting. The ‘something’ that happened was that I got a Thai massage from my friend Sky. I’ve gotten it before, I really like it, and it is such a good thing for me to practice the ‘letting go’ that is an integral component of this style of bodywork. What follows is what came out of that session.
Yoga has taken precedence over Art for most of the past decade. The last time that Art had the upper hand was in 2002, when hubby and I spent two months here in Mexico after we were married. I had a small room I used as an art studio. I found a woman to model for me; she was langorously comfortable in her own skin. I spent hours photographing the cactus varieties in el Charco, and drawing E., and combining the divergent imagery- soft, feminine, fleshy female with the spiny, prickly, greens and grays of the desert plants. When we left Mexico to return to our home in Massachusetts, those drawings got rolled into a tube. They didn’t see much daylight until I finally hung the biggest drawing in the office at my yoga center the last few months I was there.
I tacked up that large drawing of nudes intertwined with cacti as a kind of inspiration and also as a beckoning. Art has been sitting outside my door, while Yoga has spread herself all over the floor. Art keeps looking at her watch and motioning me to open the door. Yoga bats her eyes and reminds me I have waited SO LONG to be alone with her. Or him. Gender identity is kind of a non-issue when Art and Yoga appear; they’re both so beautiful. And demanding.
What they have in common, within my realm of personal experience, is that when I am deeply engaged with either one, it brings me into a state of liminality (“a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes” and thank you to Victor Turner for first defining it for me).
Art and Yoga, when seen as ‘liminal’ experiences, involve both dissolution and formation, Chaos and Order. The most commonly used meaning of the word ‘yoga’, the one which most every yoga teacher retells ad nauseum, is that ‘yoga’ means to join or link, or ‘yoke’. When I came across a commentary of the Sanskrit root word, ‘yuj’, only to find that in its more ancient meaning it includes the concept ‘to break apart’, it Blew My Mind. How could something I only knew as being a ‘yoking’ hold within it the opposite as well, the ‘unyoking’?
The road to Bliss is paved with hardship and seemingly contradictory sign posts, and GPS does not work there. But my partners, Art and Yoga, bring me to the limen, the threshold, the mouth at the opening of the cave. The vehicle joining the two and transporting us all pulled up in the form of that aforementioned two-hour session of Thai massage I had earlier this week. Through the gentle manipulations of my skilled (and trusted) friend, I had the experience of both leaving, and dissolving into, my body-vehicle. The floor of my rocking palanquin was littered with memories. The pulling, pushing, lifting, palming and cupping movements of my bodyworker became a dance of sifting and shifting and sorting.
When I left that session, Art and Yoga were no longer separated by a door; they were aligned, with arms entwined, in a barefoot dance along a promenade that was wide enough for three.