Marichiasana I (5* on the scale of difficulty) is a complex pose requiring numerous opposing actions within the body. The length of the right side body seems to contradict the compression of the left side body. The left sitbone creeps off the floor while the right sitbone drops deep into the ground. The bind creates a tendency to hunch your upper back and cave your chest in, but an open heart center is essential to leaning further forward with grace. The opposition of these parts makes Marichyasana I feel like a contradiction.
Today, I experienced my ultimate yogic contradiction: yoga in the middle of Times Square. I’m moving to Denver on July 2nd, and the NYC Summer Solstice yoga practice in Times Square seemed like a great way to embrace both my love of yoga and my love of New York in one fell swoop before I leave.
But, here’s the thing: I hate crowds. Despite all my years in the big city, my pulse quickens and my breath catches when I find myself immersed in a large group of people. I feel as if there’s no escape and I’m stuck in a swarm of bodies, with little to no control over my movements. I get anxious and then I try to get out.
Practicing in Times Square brought me face to face with the crowds that throw me so far off my center. Bystanders snapped photos, countless big screens flashed with bright, fast colors, and the sound of sirens penetrated the air. As I gazed up at the sky in Baddha Parsvokanasana, up past the looming skyscrapers, one of my greatest teachers, Dana Flynn, said “Breathe it all in. It’s all always been a part of you.”
Dana was right. One deep, soulful breath in, in the midst of all the chaos, was enough to remind me that all of this cityscape – the lights, the noise, the smells – is part of me. It’s part of what made me who I am today and what guided me to my yogic path. While, at first glance, practicing yoga in Times Square seemed like the ultimate contradiction, it was actually the perfect union – of my personal history, my passion for the practice, and my love for the city that never sleeps.
To help you unify the contradictions of Marichyasana I, check out this beautiful sequence in Yoga Journal by Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee on how to build up to the pose. Their sequencing helps you see the contradictions are really all just small pieces of a bigger One. Ultimately, all contradictions are.