"I want to unfold
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false..."

-Ranier Maria Rilke

We know that yoga is a process of unfolding the places in our bodies where we have been tight, constricted, or shut down. We lengthen the muscles that have shrunken from under-use, we stretch out the connective tissue that has gotten knotted and gnarled from stress and aging, we bring awareness into parts of our bodies that we didn't even know were there. As we move and breathe, the rigid resistance of the body's armoring melts, and we are able to breathe life back into the energy body as well.

As the energy body opens, the effects of the practice expand beyond the physical. Now the places in our minds and hearts where we have been tight, constricted, or shut down begin to reveal themselves. The openings that are occurring in the physical and energy bodies bring about a freshness of perspective that allows us to become more aware of the assumptions, beliefs, defenses, and judgments that have limited us in the past.

As these previously "enfolded" parts of ourselves emerge, it is very important to remember the basic guidelines of support that we offer our bodies during the physical practice. We commit ourselves to staying with our breath, feeling our body sensations, and remaining open and non-judging towards whatever is arising. Just as we learn to stay present during the difficult moments of the physical practice in class, we learn to turn towards what arises in our hearts and minds with unconditional presence. Instead of turning away from what we dislike or feel uncomfortable about, we gently "unfold" ourselves--opening the body, mind and heart to the great richness and depth of our experience.

This unfolding process can sometimes feel like a glorious liberation (you've probably felt that before in class during your favorite pose) or at other times it can feel like trying to make your way through a sludgy swamp (you've probably felt that before in class during your least favorite pose!). The transformational process of unfolding, healing, and growing is challenging at times. Go slow, be patient, practice compassion. Our edges are not be conquered, they are reminders of our humanity, and they can be gently ushered into dissolution simply by bringing our non-judging awareness to them, again and again.

It can also help to hold the larger perspective of your process of awakening. What are the costs of remaining closed or shut down? When we are contracted in our bodies, hearts, or minds, our experience of life grows smaller and smaller. Do we want to get used to living in a state of contraction? Or do we want to make a choice to go towards the fullness and richness of life as it is actually unfolding inside and all around us?

I believe in all that has never been spoken.

I want to free whatever waits within me

so that which no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear

without my contriving.

I want to mirror your immensity

I want to unfold.

Let no place in me hold itself closed,

for where I am closed, I am false.

I want to stay clear in your sight.

If this is arrogant, forgive me,

but this is what I need to say.

May what I do flow from me like a river,

the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,

These deepening tides moving out, returning,

I will sing you as no one ever has,

Streaming through widening channels,

Into the open sea.

-Ranier Maria Rilke