I do not know how long it has been since I have been to yoga, but I make up my mind that this weekend I will return. Perhaps it has been a year, or maybe only six months, it feels like forever. The long term pain in my hip is more or less gone, and from time to time the pain from last summer that plagued my right knee is still a twinge here and there. Though not nearly as painful as it was when I decided a break was in order. I have not walked much either, I decided my body was telling me take it easy, and still all the work on the house has created a completely different set of muscle aches and joint issues. Sore ankles plague me in the morning, and the tightness in my shoulders, upper back and arms is evident in the opening stretches of the session. I walk in to my dear friend Karen and the joy from both of us is delightful, she too has been plagued with severe health problems, and even when I was going often, she was not. There are others too who greet me with pleasure. It is good to feel this sense of Sangha for lack of a better word. Perhaps that word is just right.
Usually I gripe about certain poses and postures or asanas, but today I have come with this resolve to do it no matter what without complaint, adjusting on the first night only one pose which I feel unsafe in, a stretch which opens up the legs in a split forward to back, that feels like the tendons behind my knees will pop and roll like a rubber band cut at its furthest stretch. I alter it to a hurdler’s stretch, it does not open the soas, but it does open the hamstring. I close my eyes, and for a moment my spirit feels a deep feeling of being on a balance beam, or a log stretched across an abyss, I am maintaining a balance here, I do not want to sway to one side or another. I do not call it torture pose, I call it opportunity to work through the difficulties.
My dear friend tells me when she meditates she has a mantra that seeks to wish well upon all beings. I want to be there, though I am not yet. I have only just learned to not wish bad karma on those that have hurt me so deeply, have hurt my child. I feel the sting on my own cheek as though it were my own. She had the bravery to accuse a now guilty teacher of molestation, and for it she was called a liar, called a troublemaker. He now no longer allowed to teach teenaged boys, due to his solicitation of minors who reported him. She is redeemed. And in a flash I think, I should no longer wish the bad karma to flood the life of the one who slapped her and the one who used this as a wedge in our marriage, I think, I should just let it all go. And I do. But wish them well? Hope they are happy and free from harm? Not yet, but I know as I walk this narrow bridge that it is there just ahead on the other side.
As it turns out two days later I am at yoga yet again, after an hour on the bike and weights for my arms. It feels good to stretch and I feel the stress and months of stiffness open up my body. My teacher knows how much I love hamstring and hip openers, and he says, near the end, grab your straps, and I do, he makes eye contact with me and I raise an eyebrow, he grins at me and says we are going to do a hamstring stretch, I softly clap my hands together making no sound and grin from ear to ear. He smiles knowingly and teases me gently for my joy. Sangha.
In shavasana, I think, though I know I should only be breathing, that though I have been set free, for some of the time I have carried a heavy weight around with me, and as I work slowly, cautiously to cut the last bits of its weight from me, as I make plans on how to create the future I truly want, as I work to let the lazy drift become a focused destination, I realize how very fortunate I am, how good this practice is for me, and how much I love the serenity of this place.
I look up inside the backs of my eyelids and I see a beautiful phoenix, soaring though the turbulent sky.