Loving the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a fairly universal phenomeon, I think. Solid quaint British writing + fanciful characters + a solid allegory = a winner, unless you are one of the non-religious people who didn’t realize the direct religious tie-in’s and then felt a bit duped.
In any case, anyone who didn’t delve further into the series The Chronicles of Narnia is truly missing out. Each of the seven books is rich with what makes LW&W beloved, but in new and fascinating ways. CS Lewis, like Madeleine L’Engle, was a master at taking his faith and removing the dogma. With all the fun of fantasy, he played out the questions faith raises about who we are and what we should do.
If you want to start the series in the order in which it is set in the Narnia timeline (as opposed to when it was written), you’ll want to begin with “The Magician’s Nephew.” Along with the other many reasons to read it, it’s home to one of my favorite fictional places – a place that informs why we do yoga and maybe faith as well (it might be they are almost the same thing?).
This place is the Wood between the Worlds, a sort of in-between space that can take you to other places. In the book it’s compared to an attic that stretches between multiple rowhouses – both part of each and part of the whole at the same time. I’ve also thought of it as an airport in a way, a place with multiple doors that take you directly to multiple new locales.
This is how it’s described in chapter 3, after the main characters Digory and Polly manage to travel there:
“The trees grew close together and were so leafy that he could get no glimpse of the sky. All the light was green light that came through the leaves: but there must have been a very strong sun overhead, for this green daylight was bright and warm. It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. The pool he had just got out of was not the only pool. There were dozens of others—a pool every few yards as far as his eyes could reach. You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with their roots. This wood was very much alive. When he tried to describe it afterwards Digory always said, ‘It was a rich place: as rich as plum cake.'”
Each pond leads them to a different world, including our own and a very new Narnia, with life just about to begin there.
Yoga, for me, is like the Wood Between the Worlds. It’s not my work or my home or an outing with my friends. It’s slow, dreamy, contemplative, and yes, rich as plum cake (well, I assume. I haven’t actually had it!). It exists apart from wherever I was before yoga or wherever I will go after. The normal hectic narrative is interrupted.
In the Wood, there is the calm beauty of nature without its vicious, scary, carnivorous elements. You aren’t in a pond, you are above the ponds. You just are. In yoga, you aren’t you as you exist as an employee, a wife, a son, a caregiver. You just are.
Now they note in the book that you can’t stay in the woods, and you can’t stay in yoga. In the book if you stay too long you actually forget who you are and where you were going. I’m sure a life spent completely in yoga class would be the fullest, either.
But with after right time in yoga class or in my practice, I can jump back into the ponds of my day, the worlds that shift and spin. I’ll shift from work pond to house pond to social pond and beyond. Wherever I am, I’ll find I’m more focused after my rich, quiet, unfocused time in the woods.