I haven’t practiced yoga regularly in I don’t know how long. Yesterday, I decided to go to a 5:00pm class in town, but I woke up from a nap at 4:15pm starving, and knew I’d be in trouble if I went to a 90-minute class without eating something nourishing. So I compromised. I cooked some chicken and spinach and rolled it up in a tortilla, changed my clothes, chose a 75-minute podcast on Apple TV with no idea what to expect, rolled out my mat, and began.
Muscles I’d forgotten I had. Breath returning like a very forgiving friend. Shaking thighs. Lengthen, contract, reach, up, down, deepen, rest. After savasana, I came into the bedroom. Mani said I was glowing, that my eyes looked almost glassy. Alive. I looked in the mirror and saw that she was right.
So my intention is to do this everyday between now and March 20, the first day of spring. To bring some curiosity to how I will feel, what will happen, if I sweat in my own living room every single day for the next many weeks, as we watch the days lengthen and the light return.
Today is a snowday. There is no school. The kids are with their dad. And there is no work for me, which means I get to stay home with Mani. This last part makes me very happy. We woke up inexplicably early with no alarm. I made myself breakfast, a big bowl of oatmeal with whole milk and raisins and maple syrup (I am trying to be better about feeding myself well; I have a terrible tendency to wait until my blood sugar is all wonky and, as my sister would say in Hebrew, ze lo tov–this is not good). I read my own prompt and did the ten-minute freewrite by hand for my new writing group, which officially begins today, then typed it up to share. I logged into MailChimp and completed the tenth prompt for the March group.
And I practiced. I chose a different podcast this time, noticing how I responded to someone else’s voice and instruction. It was a recording of a live class, and I could hear the collective inhales and exhales of the others, though I was alone in the room. The standing poses left me dripping sweat and facing my own incessant thoughts of “this is hard” and “I cannot possibly stay like this for three more breaths.” I improvised a couple of times (what is “lizard” pose?? I had no idea, and did pigeon instead). Blessed corpse. Nothing to do. A pounding pulse slowing to normal. Snow falling steadily outside the south-facing, second-story windows of our apartment. Blanketed in quiet.
And then: That glow again. And the craziest hair ever. The satisfaction that comes from doing the thing rather than talking about doing the thing. A long, hot shower. A new library book. The whole rest of the day. A luxurious life, in so many ways. Really.
I’m not going to call it a “challenge” or a “goal.” I’m just going to show up, to whatever the mat holds. Relief, tears, strength, the impulse to give up, forehead to the floor, fingers like arrows shooting upward, a whole body–not parts–and a whole self, each moment entire and complete and neutral other than any of the many labels and judgments I might slap on it.
It takes so little to do something. Anything. Organize the pantry, scrub the shower stall in our little bathroom, cook hot food, respond to the email, return the phone call, look over at the person who loves you to ask, “How can I serve and support you today?”
Or just to look in the mirror, take a good, long look into your own eyes, smile a little back at yourself, and say something nice. It’s easy.
It might even make you glow a little.