"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."
- Gautama Buddha
I wake up feeling alone, lost, and worried about my future
My kids are a mess, I have bills to pay, and a house to clean. I don't feel like it, but I pull on a pair of yoga pants I pick up off the floor, knock back a cup of coffee, and head out into the snow to go to yoga class.
This is not Cardio Blast Core-Slamming yoga; it is old-fashioned hippie yoga, or what is sometimes still called Hatha yoga, but more often “Gentle Yoga”. The temperature is not 110 degrees, and I will likely not do more than break a slight sweat. But, as I move through the asanas (or poses), I am transformed, if only for an hour or so, into a serene, grounded, non-worried person who is prepared to meet the challenges we all face. My teacher, Liz, a cheery, warm woman with prematurely silver hair and a slight Queens accent, reminds us how to breathe mindfully and be present, and slowly I forget about the pack of cigarettes I found in my daughter’s coat, the tuition bill I have to cover, the child support check I haven’t yet received on this, the tenth day of the month.
“Set an intention for yourself today,” Liz says, and I resolve to remember to take care of—and love--myself.
“Let go of something that’s weighing you down”, she says, I resolve to let go of the paralyzing fear that is my worst enemy as I move into a new life.
“Together, let us chant the sound of OM”, she says, and I am reminded that we are all in this boat of life together, and that I am not alone; I am never alone.
I struggle with Half-Moon pose (“Ardha Chandrasana”), and I remember that there is balance to be found in all things, even as I teeter on the ledge most of the time. I look around and see the much older ladies who are struggling--and balancing—too. I am the youngest person in this class, and my friend who also belongs to my yoga studio sniffs dismissively at the mostly elderly attendees of this particular class, but to me they are inspirational, and a reminder of the lasting benefits of yoga, which strengthens us like a blown tree that is flexible in the face of wind and stormy weather.
The class is almost over and we lie in Savasana, the relaxing prone position that invites serenity and meditation into our lives and our practice. Soothed by Liz’s soft voice, I drift off into another plane. As always, the image of a golden heart, somewhat obscured by thorny vines, appears in my mind’s eye. Each time, the vines fall away more and more, and the golden light shines through. Do I need to tell you this is a manifestation of the healing yoga brings me? Tears roll unbidden but welcomed down my face as I let emotions wash over me, noticing them and then letting them go.
As awareness slowly comes back into my body, Liz encourages us to “Take a moment in gratitude for a body that does what you ask it to”, and I remember how much I have to be grateful for.
“Make a wish for yourself, and invite new life force—or Prana—into your life.” I wish this for you.
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