The room had a dark wooden floor, there was a Christmas cactus on the table in one corner of the room and a small round couch covered in leopard print in the other corner. Books loaded the shelves to either side of the fireplace which was concealed by art materials and two framed pictures – one hanging from the mantlepiece and one on the floor below it. Across from the fireplace, a studio table filled a large portion of the room beyond a wide opening which could have had sliding doors but didn’t. In the other half of the twenties bungalow living room, through an arch that divided the two 15” spaces as is the style of these houses, some more built in bookshelves and drawers lined the walls, and beside the round table with the Christmas Cactus, another doorway opened into a kitchen and beyond the kitchen to another small space with double doors leading to a deck and a garden. A breeze came in from the open front door and fans swirled overhead from the thirteen foot ceilings.
Savanah, a full bodied red head with curls like Annie Oakley, came in, laid her mat down in her usual place, and settled herself upon it. Marissa, slender with straight, short, full grey hair carefully took her position on her mat; the teacher having finished setting the tone of the ambient music, settled quietly into her space.
‘Sit straight and feel the space between your vertebrae…… “ the teacher breathed audible ujayii breath, reminding the students to focus their breath awareness in the body.
“Lift your ribcage off your lungs”; this reminder made Savanah think of Indian sunworshippers pinning the skin of their chest to ropes leading up towards the heavens. It was a connection of physical to cosmic.
“Angel wings, scapulae, sink down towards the central spine, loosening the shoulders…”
“Be aware of energy flows up and down your spine, connecting earth to sky, sky to earth through you, the rainbow bridge.”
“I universe am.”
As they breathed, bringing their consciousness home to the moment and the body, Savanah recalled the interesting linguistic information the teacher had shared: in Japanese “I see the dog”, is rendered, “I dog seeing.” In English there is a separation of subject and an objectification of the subject’s experience. In Japanese the reciprocal and transactional nature of experience is expressed as mutual process, rather than agent and that acted upon. Dog and I are both seeing and seen.
As they stretched and moved, Savanah tried out this new way of seeing the world –
“I leg stretching” she thought to herself and felt a connection to the life in her body as herself, in a way that was new. It could be called coming home, she thought.
“I universe am”, she thought as they held the forward bend. “I universe am trump and dying children, babies being born, all people in this moment now. I am aware that I universe am.” She remembered that she was supposed to be being aware of her muscles and finding the edge – the boundary of comfort and discomfort. “ I forward bend am” , she thought, and smiled to herself feeling the process that had been experienced by so many bodies just like hers and not just like hers. Not only the same but also different. Not only … but also…that was another verbiage the teacher had shared, and it was so helpful for resolving conflicts of the mind.
Paradox. Contradictory perceptions CAN co-exist, but only one can be observed at a time by any one observer.
“Savanah?” , Marissa’s voice broke her reverie. “Oh gosh” , Savanah thought, “ i have to try to observe my thoughts without getting swept away by them”. The teacher had moved on to the counter stretch, Savanah had completely missed the instruction.
It was a physical and intellectual pleasure to attend yoga class with a teacher whose mind so answered the questions Savanah had hardly even formulated.
The Christmas cactus flowers glowed warmly in the soft light. Savanah breathed, stretched and flowed. Yoga class was good.