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Lions Roar : July 2009
53 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2009 was clarity with joy underneath, and she decided she had to come back to yoga—that it would be hard but hard didn’t mean bad. as she got deeper into the practice, Powers consid- ered doing her thesis on how yoga might have different psychological effects on different people, and she was in the process of interviewing teachers when one asked why she had chosen this topic. She responded that it was to fulfill her program requirements, but she knew this was only the surface answer. afterwards, she took the question deeper: Why do i really want to do this kind of study? How will it affect my practice and life? Powers realized that she was trying to articulate the merits of spirituality so she’d be armed to discuss the matter with someone like her father—someone, she says, who was good at arguing. Powers called the school and said she wasn’t going to complete the program. “i really didn’t want to intellectualize my practice,” she says. “i wanted it to be more self-investigatory.” So she dedicated herself to self-study, to exploring a wide range of traditions. now her crisis of mean- ing changed its flavor. no longer simply trying to define “meaningful,” she was asking what it felt like to embody it. the FirSt PerSon PowerS taught yoga to was her husband. and it is yoga that has enabled the couple to become body-centered, meaning they’ve made the body into an ally. “when we’re not body-centered, we act out from reactivity and we’re at the mercy of whatever habits we have for coping with discomfort,” Powers explains. “but when we have a body-centered practice, the body is our most intimate guide. Prior trauma that’s being reactivated doesn’t become an- other layer of submerged material we can’t deal with; rather it becomes an added doorway into the body. we ask, where am i feeling tension or stuck-ness? and in- stead of assuming we shouldn’t be feeling what we’re feeling, we hold the dissonance.” that said, a practice that’s only, or even mostly, body-based does have potential pitfalls. “there is a tendency,” Powers warns, “to do body practices to stay thin, have tight buns, or to get attention for doing certain postures—egocentric motivations stemming from not knowing oneself truly.” yet yoga focused only on shape serves a purpose for a certain level of development, as it tends to eventually change the per- son doing it, even though they may or may not know they’re being changed. “coming through the doorway of the body,” she says, “people eventually realize they have a mind that needs ➢ page 95 PhotobyMichaelSexton when we have a body-centered practice, the body is our most intimate guide. we ask, where am i feeling tension or stuck-ness? and instead of assuming we shouldn’t be feel- ing what we’re feeling, we hold the dissonance.