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Pull Your Socks Up


Sharon’s mother is British. If life is making her daughter gloomy she says;” pull your socks up!” I have an image of England as a country which doesn’t approve of depression. Citizens should keep their sunny sides up by doing something pro-active rather than despairing; an attitude one cannot argue with even if it is only my imagining.


This morning I needed to pull my socks up though I didn’t notice until I was standing on my head in front of a mirror in my folk’s house.  It’s not usual to watch ourselves as we practice but the sight of yourself with your own eyes is a good idea now and again. I like to look, adjust, close my eyes to feel and then look back again. That’s how I noticed what it felt like to pull my socks up. That’s how I noticed how good it felt to keep my sunny side up.


I’ve been standing on my head for a few decades but it doesn’t mean I always know where I am because I have the common combination of flexibility and injuries that can pull the veil of illusion over any yoga pose


Headstand is one of the kindest postures on hip joints as they are unloaded. And it is liberation for the belly. When doable, one should learn to stand on legs no matter where they are in space to notice the support born from rising which is different than the support of leaning or collapsing. It is the support of oneself. It is independence.


I’m surprised to note that I’m twisted as I feel quite straight. It’s been awhile since I saw myself.  I’m not surprised at the delusion that my left leg is shorter than the right. I know these crooked hips. Instinct and experience bid me to rise up from the depth of my left abdomen and I see the leg correct as I draw a deeper breath invited by the stretch.


In that instant, a wave of relief rushes from belly to feet and slides back down my torso, throat and head, on the undertow of my diaphragm that’s released by the lift of that leg. You might not notice that the diaphragm, our primary respiratory support, grows from the legs but it does. Simply put, a muscle called the psoas connects them. I hear the words: Pull your socks up.

How long had I not been breathing?

Psoas muscle as socks is a funny thought but as I pulled up my psoas socks, I felt and watched myself get it together as my sunny side, my surface, effortlessly rose. I was pleased all over. A deep breath is more than satisfying. It is body shifting and mind changing. You might not notice that but it’s true. Every inhale says yes to life. You just might not notice how often you say yes:  Or you might look at it as an involuntary no to death.  So we say yes to life or no to death but if we don’t notice, it is neither profound nor inspirational. Turning your view upside down can be revelatory. The yoga is in the noticing.


My mother is watching the morning news in the kitchen. Protesters in New York are standing up for unarmed Eric Garner who was suffocated to death by an officer of peace when he refused to stand down for an arrest for the crime of selling single cigarettes on the street.


The decision that the officer involved should not be indicted has brought a nation to its feet as the people are called to awareness with the echoing cry of Eric Garner; “I can’t breathe”.


Whether in body or spirit, standing on your legs and rooting down to rise up is the chance to recognize personal power. It’s the chance to notice where you are in space. It’s the opportunity to draw a thoughtful breath.


Winter solstice is upon us. We’ll gather in each other’s embrace in the cold and darkest of time and stand together as communities small and large to weather the season. In the darkest of days we see each other and ourselves most clearly. I see us having a powerful and good influence as we walk and talk and rally together. Things change in spirals and nothing is final but the days of longer light are not as far off as we imagine them or that’s what I choose to believe.


Wherever you are and whoever you are with this turning of 2014, I wish you another year of happy, healthy, loving breath. Check yourself out once in a while. Keep your sunny side up and try to recognize the spirit of namaste all year long: You and I are not different. We just look that way.

I will be right there with you.