Once upon a time, I found myself sitting on the floor of an Omani souq, the smell of frankincense and spiced nuts wafting through surrounding market stalls on a warm gulf wind. I was performing on tour in Muscat with the Royal Danish Ballet, and had strayed from the Opera House on a rehearsal break.
A sun-ripened artisan lured me into his stall with an offer of home-brewed apple tea. We sat atop piles of Persian rugs, pouring over pictures of his process...a family tradition of hand-woven carpets, discussing the quality of silk thread and knot count. I asked about a smaller carpet hanging in the back, a piercing blue that seemed to change in hue depending on where you stood. He took it down, turned it over and showed me that within one square inch, there were 1,000 knots. The result, a velvety smooth, magic carpet that melted beneath your fingertips, however intended to hold your feet.
I couldn't imagine the time, expertise and history involved in weaving such an honest work of art... a manual labor of love, hanging humbly in the back of a market stall, worthy of a palace. 1,000 knots bound, per square inch.
I walked back to the theater for an evening performance of Bournonville's La Sylphide. I thought about the physical/mental/emotional "knots" beneath a seamless Ballet. How many hours of work, concentration, sacrifice behind a silky smooth work of Art? ...probably about 1,000 per square inch.
Yoga is brimful of poses that confine, constrict, bind and wind the body... asanas that shift your shape with the intention of shifting your mind. The goal is not to use your body to get into these shapes, but to use these shapes to get into your body. The work is in sitting with the knots—in all their forms— trusting in their purpose, listening for their message. The journey is exploring the peace beneath the pressure, relishing in release.
Once upon another time, I found myself on the upper west side of New York City, in child's pose on a "mat" made of blue silk thread, the faintest smell of biblical fragrance & warm spices woven into thousands of knots beneath my fingertips... the work of generations, the relic of a life chapter a world away.
If not for the endless (plot) twists, ties, tucks and turns...the work, tension & challenge beneath our very feet... would the unraveling of our story smell as sweet?
*brews pot of apple tea.