I made a comment last week in my yoga class about how fun Upward Dog is. People seemed confused. So I acted it out for them, my hands steady on an invisible rock as my body hinges forward and curves up through heavy water and muffled sounds, I’m liberated as I push my chest higher and higher, arms fully extended under me – strong, free… fluorescent red hair waving around my face. Little Mermaid anyone? Yes, that’s what I told them – I like upward facing dog because it reminds me of that monumental scene ,where Ariel, at the climax of “Part of YourWorld”, allows her head to pierce through an ocean prison, with a dream to grow legs.
I was in the bath tub last night, soaking up my weekend long 300 hour teacher training. I looked down at my own legs absorbing the goodness of epsom salts, my arms floating on water, and my heart became so overcome with gratitude. Maybe there were people in my class that thought me vain to imagine, in a public mirror, that I’m a Disney princess. Maybe they found it shallow, or just silly (more then likely they just think I’m cute) – but that’s only because they missed the references, the metaphoric truths, and the ever open windows of my soul.
Can I explain?
When I was 7, The Little Mermaid came out on VHS. It was this far off distant dream that I would ever be allowed to watch it since the reports…through many Christian publications…was that the story had a lot of harmful lessons for children. However, when my birthday came around, to my greatest surprise, there was indeed a rectangular package containing…I kid not…my very own copy. “Oh my goodness! Thank you so much!” I said, looking up at my dad. He looked back at me and I will never forget his words. “You’re welcome. But…” as he shook his finger in my direction “if you ever display any of these attitudes that are in the movie we’re gonna take it away.”
Needless to say, I stayed quiet…fully understanding that expressing my opinions, singing out loud, or having a shore side dance with a brown eyed boy named Eric was completely prohibited.
But then, as all caged in little girls do – I grew up. I began having dreams of “being where the people are.” I wanted to see, wanted to see them dancing. I had questions – what’s their fire about, how does it burn? When, oh when God, will it be my turn? See, I knew though, that legs were required, for jumping and dancing. Mine were tied together, moving me in bound cycles of fear, of boxed in passion, of unhealthy cravings. I wasn’t getting anywhere, just deeper and deeper in my own dark ocean of isolation. I dreamed of a place where I wouldn’t be reprimanded for my dreams, for my differences, for even my image. I didn’t know I was a bright young woman, ready to cut the ropes, ready to stand under the Sun with the waves of emotions under control, met with grace, met with understanding – and that I had enough love in me to meet others that way too.
I was willing to risk anything for this freedom – my time, my joy, even my voice. I confused drunken friendships with authenticity, domination with security, being trampled with service. It seemed what I deserved, sometimes it even seemed real. My role in the castle of life had a clear plan, and mine was to please, to sing one tune, to present pretty.
Then I found my mat.
It was slippery, a little bit like me. My start was slow, gradual – but sincere.
Through simple Sun A’s – extending toward light, bowing down in reverence to my own truth, tapping in to my devotion for Divine…grounding and surrendering in Child’s Pose…like the child I wanted to be…capable of absorbing love if only given – I unnaturally gave it to myself. My enthusiasm grew…I found myself coming back, over and over, to this dry space I could be anything I wanted to be.
I found focus, the room falling away as I lifted higher out of self, levels of darkness drifting away as my soul elevated through layers of attachment – the sun now visible, the sparkles real, the call of birds within hearing range.
Then the impossible. My legs…I found my legs. They were long, and fair…with freckles. There were bruises, the knees pretty knobby. I loved them. Could they actually be mine? Could I be the one standing tall? Strong? Free? I could lunge, skip, balance, even dance. I was able to dance. Days of floating from here to there GONE – my movements now intentional, sometimes strong and forceful, often fluid, many days enjoying the ability of standing still.
As I found myself closer and closer to the surface, something else also changed. I recognized that this sun I had always craved, this oxygen…this next breath…wasn’t outside of me. Everything I wanted…the warmth, the connection, the security in simply being…was inside. I listened – even the seagulls song was a gentle harmony to my own heart tune, my soul larger then the entire expanse of the ocean. By recognizing the nature of Love, I found my own true nature. By focusing my attention on light, light was absorbed inside of me.
I had always been free but never noticed…all I had needed to do, all of these years, was pull on the loop and everything…everything external…would have slowly fallen away. There was nothing I had to give, to swap, to relinquish. I gave my own self this power, with my birthright LOVE.
I’m not just part of this world, I AM this world, and I want everyone to find their dance. Little Mermaid references may be slightly unorthodox in a yoga studio, but everything, absolutely everything can be our teacher if we let it – even Ariel.
Part of Your World / Lyrics from Disney’s The Little Mermaid
I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty
I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore
(You want thingamabobs?
I got twenty)
But who cares?
No big deal
I want moreI want to be where the people are
I want to see
want to see ’em dancin’
Walkin’ around on those
(Whad’ya call ’em?) oh – feet
Flippin’ your fins you don’t get too far
Legs are required for jumpin’, dancin’
Strollin’ along down a
(What’s that word again?) streetUp where they walk
Up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wish I could be
Part of that worldWhat would I give
If I could live
Outta these waters?
What would I pay
To spend a day
Warm on the sand?
Betcha on land
Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters
Bright young women
Sick o’ swimmin’
Ready to standAnd ready to know what the people know
Ask ’em my questions
And get some answers
What’s a fire and why does it
(What’s the word?) burn?When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love
Love to explore that shore above?
Out of the sea
Wish I could be
Part of that world