“I think that today, we are going to focus on triangles,” Risha says from her double-bolster perch at the front of the studio. It’s the last day of February, and the first day of over 50-degree weather after several consecutive weeks of snow, ice, sleet, and other forms of merciless winter precipitation. The windows of the studio are open, some overly-confident birds can be heard singing from the bushes out by the parking lot—the universe truly feels like it’s shifting toward Spring.
I love Triangle pose—it’s one of the first yoga poses I recall learning, and something about the wide-legged base and upside-down-ness of the pose feels both rooted and reverent. The number three has such a rich history and sacredness, from the Holy Trinity in Christianity to the three sections of the written Torah in Judaism. The Triple Goddess trope of Maiden, Mother, and Crone appears in many pagan spiritual practices. In Norse mythology, prior to Ragnarök, there will be three hard winters without an intervening summer. With the past few weeks, I think we could realistically expect Ragnarök any time now.
After we’ve warmed up sufficiently, we begin to set up for Triangle; from standing, step your right leg straight back, lining up the heels, and turning the toes of the right foot off to the right edge of the mat. Stability, strength. With arms out to a “T” I hinge forward, and my top half floats down as my heart dips below the plane of my waist. My left hand finds the top of my ankle—I used to be able to easily touch the floor, but my hamstrings are talking smack to me so I decided to pause my descent here. Finally, my right hand reaches skyward, fingers open and lifting from the bone like the arm of a marionette. And then, we hold, and breathe.
I’m not terribly adept at math, but I guess the reason that triangles are such a stable shape is that the wide base effectively distributes the weight of anything placed on the topmost point. Energy is channeled down, the burden of the load dissipating until it reaches something that can more easily bear it. As my front knee begins to tremble slightly with the effort of holding the pose, I wonder if this same principle applies to the body, my body. My base has certainly widened; full hips wedged even further apart by childbirth, a belly that swings freely like wine sloshing up the side of a glass. The bones of my feet have spread, sliding slowly apart as the hormones of pregnancy told my joints to loosen, to prepare to stretch to tearing. All this widening and spreading to bear the new weight of heart so full I can’t breathe sometimes. My head, perched on the pinnacle of my body’s new shape, heavy with the strange worries and commandments of motherhood:
“Thou shalt send the baby to the best (translation: most expensive) daycare possible.”
“Thou shalt not feed the baby anything with food coloring in it.”
“Thou shalt not let thyself go and gain another 10 pounds.”
“Thou shalt tell this baby every single day how completely and utterly loved she is.”
I tighten my core and ratchet myself out of Triangle pose, suddenly very aware of not only the emotional, but physical weight of my own head as it pulses with blood. I realize now why this shape is so mythical, and why my body has seemingly morphed into it without my awareness.
I need this broader foundation--thickened legs, the dimpled topography of my sides, the canyon deepening between my flattening, now milk-less breasts--to bear the great and heavy love that I now possess. The new responsibilities bearing down on me. The heft of a child's warm body sleeping in my arms. The architecture of my body has redesigned itself into a geometrically stronger, and more sacred shape. After Savasana, we take a seated position one final time and bring our hands to our hearts. My fingertips touch, tent themselves reverently at chest level—yet another triangle. I thank Risha aloud for another epiphany, and silently, I send all the three-parted deities of the world a little prayer of gratitude. Bring on Ragnarök.
Amanda Wilkinson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University where she was the recipient of a Jackson Fellowship and a Teaching Fellowship. She is the recipient of the Gertrude Claytor Prize in Poetry from the Academy of American Poets, and her poetry has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems have been published on Poets.org, in The Journal of American Poetry, Foundry, Flock, The Sycamore Review, Sugar House Review, Silver Birch Press, and The New Territory, among others. Her essays have appeared in AAAA Magazine and The Morning News, and she sits on the Board of Directors for Ruminate magazine.
In addition to writing poetry and nonfiction, Amanda is a results-driven, creative professional with a proven track record of creating revenue-generating content for a variety of nonprofit organizations. Her passion for telling the stories of diverse organizations (theatre, education, literary, etc.) allows her to craft unique, human-centric content that motivates and engages constituents. She is currently the Assistant Director of Development, Annual Fund & Parent Programs at Whitfield School in St. Louis where she lives with her husband and daughter. Little Human Relics is her first book.