My arms were shuddering like a trailer bed on a washed out road.
Chaturanga Dandasana [exhale]
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana [inhale]
Adho Mukha Shvanasana [exhale]
Sits bones pointed to the sky, backs of my legs aching, arms outstretched and pressing to the earth, I had repeated the Sun Salutation A sequence over and over, finding its well-worn rhythm deep in my muscle memory. "Do you know Surya Namaskara A?" the instructor of the Mysore room inquired. I nodded yes, knowing full well that I had just refreshed that memory from a YouTube video perched on the edge of my thin travel mat in the hotel room just days before.
It had been eight years since I had rolled out the mat in an Ashtanga class, eight years since my friend Jenny Antony and I used to work deeply and intentionally before capping our practice with a free slice of bread from the Great Harvest store upstairs. Eight years since I lay on the mat in Shavasana, my body regrouping and resetting itself, tears streaming from my eyes while Eva Cassidy's soulful voice sang Fields of Gold. Forging the road of new parenthood, married life, and deep identity confusion, yoga had been a refuge for me. It was a time to myself to try to leave things on the mat, concentrate my mind on the breath instead of the tapes in my head and bend my body in ways that would force me to realize that, like life, some days were easy, some incredibly hard.
After the work, Shavasana brought me two incredible images today. The first one was of a fish caught on a line, leaping out of the water, flipping, struggling, working against what is inevitable but fighting nonetheless, fighting the need to succumb to what will be. There are things that I have abandoned that I don't want to pick up, even though I must. There are situations that I need to let go, even though it breaks my heart to do so, even though my breath catches at the thought of it. There are days when I feel caught by realities I know I must deal with on so many levels, but that I thrash against, unwilling, unwilling, unwilling.
The second image that rested before my eyes was that of a large, grey spirit presence, somewhere between Totoro and Stillwater the Panda from Jon J. Muth's Zen Shorts. This presence sits next to me, silent, there, looming, reminding me that I have unfinished business, that that business waits for me, it will not go away no matter how far away I scoot on the park bench. It leans in, just a bit, with soft pressure that reminds me that I don't need to be scared of sorting through this unfinished business, that I will be held well by what I need to sort through it. That it may be difficult or painful but that it will be ok.
Today the sweat drenched my body, my long-lost limberness resurfacing in the heat and incense and intensity of the moves. I lay there thinking of the work I need to do to free the fish and befriend the spirit, of the people I love and lean on, of the blocked feeling I have that, with practice, will be lifted. Some easy, some incredibly hard. Om.