BY JONI TAKANIKOS
March 21, 2014
Fallen branch in springtime
Gone before the bloom.
Spring is a dangerous time of year. Delicate buds form on the branches, new shoots push up from the dark underground and we human beings clean out our closets, wash the windows and picnic on the warm green grass.
But amidst these gentle breezes and warm sunny days, a thundercloud may suddenly form or a roaring wind blows from out of nowhere, it seems. Or, worse yet, a sudden freeze comes in the night. Picnics are canceled, trees and branches come down and some of the fragile new shoots and sweet buds of spring will not survive the dangers of their new beginnings.
A new transplant to our island recently asked me this perennial question on a recent picture-perfect day: “Is it always like this in Spring?” I answered truthfully, “Yes, it is always this beautiful, and spring is capricious and she could change her mind about this warmth and blue sky any minute.”
I recently experienced a day that was bookended by the celebration of two friends. One of them is nearing the end of her life at the age of 69 and many had gathered around her bedside to tell her how profoundly she had affected their lives with her gentle ways and teachings. The other celebrated his 80th birthday with a lively bash that reflected his incredible vitality and passion for life. We really cannot know what wind, thunderstorm, freeze or dream will take us from this life; we can only continue to push through the underground darkness of winter to proclaim our new beginnings each and every day throughout all our seasons.
I am a student and a teacher of yoga and find myself continually astounded by the vast richness of this field of enquiry and study. I suppose it is well fertilized by my passionate relationship to it.
Just today, on this glorious spring cycle of sun, rain and yet more sun, I have learned that one of Pantanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga—pranayama—which I have always known as the “study of the breath,” may also be translated from the Sanskrit with a deeper meaning. Pranyama can mean “to expand the awareness or to expand the dimension of the vital force.” And I discovered that pranayama itself does not live in the breath but, instead, resides in the space between the inhalation and the exhalation.
This beautiful bud of new wisdom comes to me in the field of spring, forty-two years into my relationship with yoga. This is the renewal and beginning that is always with us, in between each breath, but is especially felt in this season when all around us nature is daring to let its new growth come forth with courage and the hope that all will be well no matter what comes.
Joni Takanikos is a poet, singer and gardener. She teaches Chandra yoga at Half Moon Yoga Studio in Langley Village. She is sending out her new shoots come what may, always hoping for sweetness to take root and buds to blossom.
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