The last few weeks I’ve been Instagramming photos of places I practice yoga. I’ve shared them with FB and Twitter, but if you’re a fan on the FB you’ve been shortchanged. When you share from Instagram you don’t have the option of sharing on a page you manage, like A Yogi Kitchen, you can only share on your personal page.
But it made me start thinking about how lucky I am to have connected with yoga and a yoga community. Yoga has been a blessing and a gift in my life. My immediate thought was that you can practice yoga absolutely anywhere. My pics from the last few months illustrate this, but also I keep encountering experiences that highlight it perfectly.
I’m dating someone who plays squash a few times a week. Apparently it’s a north of Boston kinda thing. The other day he came home from squash early because something was wrong with the air at the club and it was stuffy. “Kinda like hot yoga,” he said. He doesn’t really know, but he was trying to make it accessible for me, which is endearing. And I thought, a yogini accepts something like that as part of the practice and continues with her chaturanga. She wouldn’t quit. She’d consider it a blessing and a gift. I didn’t say that of course.
And I started thinking about all the places I’ve practiced and taught yoga over the years. Today I meditated in the Cambridge Public Library and yes, there’s a pic. Two days ago I stretched in the Boston Public Gardens and again, yes there’s a pic.
Over the weekend I practiced at the bay in Salem. The day before that I meditated and did some standing poses on the balcony in Salem and all week I’ve been trying to catch the Massachusetts weather warm enough in the morning to practice in the back yard of my building. But over the years I’ve practiced in living rooms, bedrooms, hotel rooms, basketball courts, massage rooms. I’ve practiced on decks, docks and dens. And I’ve taught in school gyms, classrooms, obstacle courses, gymnastic floors, racquetball courts, daycare play areas, living rooms, public parks, dance studios, a swimming pool (not actually in the pool) , a gazebo, a lake house deck, on the beach. I’ve done pranayama (breathwork) and meditated in airplanes, airports, trains, buses, public gardens, courtyards, zen temples, churches, a geodesic dome, libraries, yoga studios, my boyfriend’s bedroom, park benches, restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, boats and so many more. The bathtub is the best. Anything you can do in the bathtub is worth doing often.
I’ve practiced and taught when it’s been hot, cold and raining. When it’s been loud, when it’s been silent. I’ve taught in places where the sound reverberated and when the space has been so huge and I’ve been so small and both places they couldn’t hear me. I had to yell simple instructions and just let them practice.
I’ve taught flow, restorative, meditative, gentle, special needs, yoga for arthritis, yoga for depression, yoga for anxiety, yoga for seniors and yoga for preschoolers. The youngest person I’ve taught was 2 and the oldest was 86. I remember them both well.
The point is I don’t need a racket, a track, a ball, a certain pair of shoes, a suit, sun, water, clear skies or even a mat. I don’t need to feel well, energetic, calm or happy. I can get on the mat in the worst of moods. I can be open and honest with my students and tell them that I’m hurting/mad/edgy and they create a space for me to be me, as I habitually do for them.
Yoga for me is a way of life, but the practice is available, accessible and easy anytime, anywhere and any way I choose. It’s a blessing and it’s a gift. Yoga is in my relationships, in all my most mundane activities and is there when I have no where else to turn. Yoga has helped me through tough tough times. It’s been there for me when I was terribly sick and terribly sad. It’s saved my life more than once and I hear the same from my students.
I speak with my friend Aaron almost every day and there are days that I need her and days I hope she feels like I help her. But there are days when Aaron is busy with a sick kid or with her Mom or is sick herself. There are times when Aaron isn’t available. Yoga is always, always available for me. Yoga is in me and now, after 20 years it will never be different. It will always be there.
I remember my first time on the mat and I remember the last. It teaches me, it guides me, it helps me choose the path. Yoga has introduced me to Wah!, TKV Desikachar, Erich Schiffman, Judith Lasater, Rod Stryker, Gary Kraftsow, Patricia Walden and so many lesser knownbut equally as thrilling yogais. It helped me find my teacher, it helped me discover myself. It’s helped me be a better person, but most importantly it’s helped me accept that I’m human. It’s the biggest lesson of my life and I got there because of yoga.
I never think of retiring. I never need to. Yogis teach until they’re done. There’s no retirement age. No requirements for teaching. I’ve taught with a sprained ankle from a chair, it’s not what I prefer, but it taught me that even if I couldn’t practice the poses I could still teach the poses.
And even if I can’t teach in a classroom, I’ll always be able to write. The blessings are numerous, the gift is endless.
And perhaps this is my return to a gratitude post. Perhaps we should now call it Thankful Thursday posts. Please consider contributing. It doesn’t have to center on yoga. It just has to be something, anything that you’re thankful for.