By [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Natraja Asana King of Dance Pose

On Tuesday, in an evening class, I noticed something:  midway through the session that began at 7:30 p.m., it started to get dark. Darker than I like, because we all know what the growing early darkness means (I can’t think about it too much or I will get sad.). But it did get my mind working. Considering, first, that the class could have been led by candlelight, as the instructor didn’t turn any overhead lamps on until just moments before the end, and even then they were so dim, you could see only silhouettes of moving bodies across the room. This certainly was not a bad way to follow the path through the vinyasa flow, just different than what I am used to in my daily 5 p.m. And then this fleeting thought about candles led me to something an instructor said months ago that has flickered in and out of my mind ever since: You can be the light or you can be the mirror that reflects the light.

You can be the light…or you can be the mirror that reflects the light.

What I like about this is that both are good ways to be. You can’t lose if you look at and live life like this. This duality. Sometimes you’re leading the pack, bushwhacking the trail, burning so bright. I imagine myself holding the candle (or wearing the headlamp?, if you will), and I wonder if I have ever truly done this. And I know the answer is yes. And then sometimes you’re supporting the innovator, holding the mirror up to their ideas, reflecting the brilliance that is someone else’s, listening, helping, propping up, being the buoy that cautions the lead. It is worth asking yourself if you stand in this role regularly as well, and if you do it genuinely and with integrity.

Likely most of us lean one way or the other much of the time, but it fairs us well to take a turn or two at practicing new roles. Exercise duality. Finding balance in these is likely the ultimate goal, but can it be obtained?

Tonight in yoga, I attempted to practice this duality and find balance in standing poses. Particularly in Natraja Asana DANCER pose. Dancer is one of my favorites, for many, many reasons; one being that there is this draw to peek, this urge to look straight at yourself in the mirror to see just how far that leg is extended into the air behind you. Are you leaning too far forward? Are your hips level and pulled evenly toward the front of the room? Are you playing your edge? Are you being the flame or the mirror? Finding drishti—meaning vision or insight in Sanskrit, is a gazing technique that develops concentration and teaches you to see the world as it really is—almost like what I imagine feeling what an optical illusion would be like (if there is such a thing as feeling optical illusions), in DANCER is vital, at least to my practice, and I’ve never, not even once, sneaked a peek. Knowing full well if I see my reflection I will lose my way and no longer be my own light. I will no longer be the ray, playing my edge, quieting the chatter described above and finding oneness and peace in the pose and in the mind; I’ll be the mirror that reflects the light instead and there’s no telling what that would mean in that exact moment.