12:05pm. Nobody shows for the yoga class I teach at work. Oddly enough, in the past 12 months of doing these twice-weekly classes, this has never happened.
It’s a rainy day, and in the room in which we do the yoga practice, the wall we face is all windows, facing a small bay off the Missisippi River. The rain is difficult to ignore, especially as this has been one of the longest, coldest, wettest springs (let’s just call it winter II) we’ve ever had. We had frost alerts after May 15, which isn’t supposed to happen. The sun. Should. Be. Here.
I was hoping to fit a run in today, and fate just dealt me a great opportunity to do that instead of teaching yoga. However, I decide to take a cue from the melancholy of the color outside, and decide to practice some yoga, in the dry and warmth of the deserted room. I haven’t found much time to practice yoga lately, due to a busy schedule and a basement remodel that has snatched away my usual home yoga space, for a few weeks. Some noon yoga for me today is way overdue.
I had put together an easier-on-the shoulders, hip-opening (or hip-loving, depending on one’s perspective) sequence for my students, though it included a few new riffs that I hadn’t actually practiced before. So today would be a perfect day to try it out, before victimizing any students with it.
After I moved though the quiet, centering poses of the beginning of my practice, I found inspiration for a devotion for my practice today: The pull and the grounding comfort of the earth. I decided to focus my mind on rooting into the earth, really paying attention to gravity’s effect on my body and its connection to the earth; to settle in, to give in to that connection, when I sense my mind wandering. Why this devotion? Maybe it was due to child’s pose feeling better than usual. In retrospect, maybe it was due the physical experience of handling soil and clay, this past week – I was doing some hurried gardening in prep for a visitor who is soon to arrive. Or maybe it’s the nature of the visitor, herself: my Mom’s coming for a visit. She lives far away, and though we talk weekly, I see her maybe twice a year.
My decisions to teach (or just practice) a certain focused sequenece of poses can be driven by various factors. Maybe I routinely cycle through hip-opening, shoulder/heart-opening, twisting, heating, or cooling sequences, just to make sure I give my students variety. Or perhaps I’m feeling wobbly, and want some balance work. Maybe my hips feel tight from sitting doing a lot of other activities on my feet, or maybe my rock climbing or desk work has driven me to desire some shoulder work. Maybe Arbor Day has inspired me to build a practice that culminates in tree pose. Maybe it’s my birthday and I want to do as many Sun Salutations as years I’ve been on this earth. It’s usually a very intentional choice: my students were due for some hip work, and I’m getting on a plane, so any extra love I can give my hips ahead of time may be a good preventive measure.
However, it’s hard to ignore this convergent timing with a rare but very welcome visit from the woman who created and nurtured me way back from a wee idea. In terms of energy flowing through the subtle body, the seat of security is the Muladhara, or root chakra. It lies in a spot that is darn close to the hips. Whether it’s because I just need to acknowledge her love, or because spending some extra time with my sacral and hip-opening poses will help to make ensure that we have a smooth visit and a safe trip, it’s an interesting coincidence.
Anyway. Fun. Enlightening, perhaps. As I moved through the practice, bringing my mind back as needed to gravity and the earth, it really was quite a refreshing, reassuring 45 minutes or so. Yoga teacher nourishment: I needed this.