Scripture Theme: Mark 13: 1-8, 24-27
Going backwards scares me. When I can tell that a yoga teacher is leading us into a class of backbends, my stomach tightens and I think, ‘oh, no! Can I politely step out like I’m going to the bathroom and then just leave?’ Yet, I’ve made all kinds of arrangements to be in that class, too much to undo because of my own fear. So I sigh. I acknowledge my own nervousness. Facing fear isn’t fun. Backbends make me do that.
Mark 13 is all about things that scare us. The future, namely. The future in this scripture is full of famine, war, deprivation. Scary. The sun gets dark in this text, and there is no moonlight. Who isn’t afraid of the dark, especially a future that is dark?
So we do backbends. We go into the dark, the unknown, the uncharted territory that we cannot see. It requires great courage, and really good alignment so the spine stays healthy. The amazing thing that happens when you do backbends is this. . . when you are done, it feels awesome. The movement of the spine moves the synovial fluid, and with it, old stuff gets moved out, and joy can move in. Even though I get totally scared about a backbend class, I love love the way I feel when it is over. Something about going into the unseen and coming out again, something about trusting that I’m held even when I think I might just collapse, something about the spine bending and coming back again, just makes for joy.
God knows this. Even though Mark 13 shows the darkness of a future that we cannot see, it ends with Christ coming in glory and gathering angels. It’s like the angels are gathering the corners of the sky, which probably requires a backbend, and bringing the whole of creation under Christ. Christ brings the light into the darkness. There is no future in which Christ’s light does not shine. In this we can trust, even when it seems the very sun is dark, even when we feel like we are going backward rather than forward. Even when are totally scared, doing backbends into the dark, we can trust that on us, Christ will shine. Shine on. Shine on.
Backbends can be really robust and vigorous, like full wheel, or urdhva dhanurasana. They can also be more subtle, like a gentle backbend while standing in tadasana. I’ll offer a pose in between super vigorous and gentle—Salabhasana . Lie on your belly, arms extended along your sides, palms down, forehead on the mat. Invite a rich inhale, lift the head, shoulderblades on the back, press into the palms. Two –three breaths here, then exhale to release. Shine on.