Living Ashram, Living Here


God he is slow. Why is he going so slow? He is old. He can not drive well, as indicated by the dangling Handicap sign from his rear view mirror. This should be a clue to me to back off. He is trying. He is my elder. But he is making me late to Yoga.

And ohmygod I can not miss Yoga. Not today. Not today.

It becomes nearly comical as he pumps his breaks slowing to 25mph down the 35mph hill. COOOMMEEOONNN I groan. “Just put it in third gear, buddy. You can do it”. I’m coaxing him from my own vehicle not far enough back from his. I just want him to go. JUST GO.

If I wasn’t so irritated, I would chuckle when he stops for right on red. He does not go. He will not chance it. Even if it is his right-of-way.

Suddenly I’m remembering leaving church as a child. How everyone would sing their praises, nod in agreement, “let us go forth in peace” they would say together. Within minutes people are bullying one another for the chance to leave first. To cut off another parishioner. To get as far away from there as possible. It’s a classic joke, the church people and their parking lot. Always living in hypocrisy.

It’s a wonder I make it just as my Yoga instructor is about to lock the door and start class. As I almost always do, I breeze through the door a little too quickly. “Hi!” I kick off my shoes breathlessly. “You are just in time,” my strong grandmother Yoga instructor smiles. I tell her of the old man and of how I am not living my practice when I am late to class. “It’s all the more reason to come,” she says in the same tone she uses to instruct each of us in to positions. Her tone is so peaceful, strong, empowering. “Yes” I agree. “Yes.”

I often agree with her through our brief time each week together. She laughs easily. She shares stories of her family and her practice. She is living proof that my goals can be reality. She does not take herself too seriously but is serious in her teaching. She corrects us gently, each of us listening to her cadence. “Downward Dog. Warrior Two. Half Triangle. Reverse your Warrior. And. Chaturanga.” We move collectively in the heat. Dripping. Breathing. Listening. Doing. I forget about the old man and his inability to go the speed limit. I forget about the deadline. I forget about the heaviness of life.

I breathe.

Often in those times, I pretend I am somewhere else. The heat. The music. The low, soft breathing of my fellow Yogis. We are here, together, but none of us are truly in this room. We are present in our bodies but we are centered in a bigger place. We fill space with our breath. Our muscles quake. We are tired. We are thirsty.

We are happy.

It is for this reason I speed to class some days. It is not the old man’s fault I am still learning to find this peace outside of that studio. If I could explain to him, I would. “I am young enough to know I want more and old enough to know I have to grab it.” I would explain this to him on his front porch sucking cherries off their pits. We would rock side-by-side and he would nod, years of wisdom behind his eyes. “It is not that I am not happy,” I might continue in this imaginary discussion, “It is that I’m afraid it will not stay.” He will pass on years of understanding and I will lick the cherry juice from my finger.

It is not his fault we did not have this conversation. But next time, perhaps, I’ll remember to leave a few minutes earlier and truly live my practice both before, during, and after my class. It is my goal.

It is good to have goals.

Posted: 2/7/2010

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