up exercises. Slowly, my feet connect to
the clay Earth; I feel myself move through
the air around me, I feel the way my body
awakens. I sense the energy of the other
practitioners moving in the kalari. Everything becomes simple.
Phillip Zarrilli, one of the first Westerners
in modern times to study and write about
Kalarippayattu, speaks of it as When the
Body Becomes All Eyes, also the title of his
book about the art. Perhaps this description
is a common precept in many martial arts,
yet somehow, this is the practice that has
hooked my attention. There is something
innately satisfying for me in the practice itself, in the way the body and mind awaken,
and become more sensitive, and even more
alive. After practice, I feel worked out yet
vibrant. I am told this experience is related
to the fact that the practice stretches and
awakens the nadis, or energy lines. I sense
it also has to do with embodying other energetic currents available in the Universe.
The practice brings into full play my studies
and trainings in shamanism, Yoga, dance,
Ayurveda, and meditation practices, then it
takes all of them further.
I grab the long stick for partner practice
with an instructor. “Focus on the eyes,” I
am told. “Relax the upper body and keep a
strong lower body.” I stand in horse stance,
and with our long sticks crossed, I gaze intently at the eyes of my practice partner. I
am focused yet simultaneously relaxed; seeing and sensing everything.
I still have a long path ahead of me, but
in this moment, I am glad to be here, now,
practicing to stay in a state of focused presence while feeling life energy pulsating fully
through me. This state of focused presence
represents for me total aliveness. You are no
longer caught in the past and future plans,
the usual, human condition. Instead, you are
relaxed, ready, and capable of response that
is accurate and true to a current situation.
That state of presence is also the crux of
spiritual practice for me. I am interested in
living fully engaged in this human dimension
and connected at the same time to my divine
nature. So I take a deep breath, ground my
energy and begin the practice again.
Yukiko Amaya is an artist, teacher, and healer born in
Japan, now living in Topanga. She practices and
teaches embodied consciousness through Tantric Yoga
and meditation, conscious dance, and Kalarippayattu: