Though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
“In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: it goes on.” Robert Frost
Have you heard the saying “Things happen in threes”? When we practice asana, we speak of entering a pose, modifying the pose, and then resting in the pose. And when therapists offer healing massage they speak of three touches: the first is new, the second familiar, and the third relaxing. Recently, a Yogadevotion instructor related to our teacher group something she had learned at a yoga conference. She taught us about the three student doshas, personality archetypes that are described in traditional Ayurvedic healing practices, and about how to sequence a yoga flow to accommodate all three types of student: complacent, distracted, or striving. Working within the pattern of three feels natural and comprehensive.
In the Bible the number three is important too, with associations of solid, real, and complete. A basic tenet of the Christian faith is belief in the Trinity—in God the Creator, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—and the apostle Paul speaks of the triad of hope, faith, and love. In both instances three represents a complete, integrated relationship.
This week’s verse is often quoted at weddings, emphasizing the fact that two are better and stronger than one and that three are complete, especially if the third member of the alliance, God, is included. If there is one common criticism of yoga and faith practices, it is that they are too often all about ourselves. The relationship we experience with God challenges that focus. What we learn on our mat about ourselves and our relationship with God has significant ramifications for the world beyond the mat. A faith-based yoga practice that understands the unique relationship among the three pillars—God, self, and the world—is complete.
Inhale I Am
Focus Pose: Triangle, trikonasana, is a favorite pose of many yoga students. For years when I attended class I heard Triangle cued using these words: “Imagine your body sandwiched between two horizontal planes of glass.” Ouch! While it is true that we set up the pose as a side stretch, it is important that in so doing we ensure that our knees are not strained. To help the knees find their proper position in the pose we may need to widen or shorten our stance. Protect your knees further by lifting the arches of your feet and your kneecaps as you press the four corners of your feet into the earth. With breath draw energy up both legs to your core center. Keep arms and legs active as you complete the pose.