Tuesday, November 3, 2009
My Morning of Zen
Tuesday morning I participated in my first ever yoga class. Apparently I was obvious about it. I set my mat down twice before settling on a spot near the door, and I peeled off my socks while inspecting the foux wood floor for visible signs of wart fungi. It was then that Kathy, the instructor, asked, "Is there anyone here who has never taken a yoga class before?" Everyone in the class seemed to know each other, so they all turned to me.
"This is my first class," I said, "unless you count the DVD Yoga for Dummies." The class responded with a chattering of amusement that blended with the sushi restaurant music playing in the background. Then we began.
As I crossed my ankles and rested the back of my hands on my knees, Kathy reminded us of the intentions of Yoga, and encouraged us to determine our own intentions that morning. "When you are holding a pose and finding difficulty in balance, what do you want to call to yourself? Later in your day, you might need that very same thing, and this is your preparation." I decided to call "grace" unto myself, thinking it a very multi-purpose word since it is used in both ballet and theology. I questioned whether it was too Judeo-Christian for 6:00 am yoga, but since we weren't sharing our words out loud, and since I was in the East Studio at the YMCA, I stuck to it.
I thought I was doing really well, but then the warm-up stretches concluded and I immediately screwed up the first pose: Downward Facing Dog. Kathy quickly came to my rescue. "Move your hands out further. Further. Further. Your legs are quite long. Further. Beautiful." I pictured a Pekingese forming a triangle with its hip alignment, balancing on all four paws. Then I called grace unto myself.
My mornings have always been a battle, and typically I emerge barely on-time, barely ready, never triumphant. I just haven't figured out how to successfully wake up. Occasionally I determine to read my Bible and pray first thing in the morning, but I'm so incoherent that I once opened my Bible only to realize that I was studying Merriam-Webster's dictionary. I can't read. I can't remember whether I've already shampooed my hair. But apparently I CAN imitate a disjointed Pekingese. And after pressing my ankle on its opposite knee and gradually bending that knee to a ninety degree angle, I could even pray. The last time Jesus and I had a good conversation in the morning was after I fell asleep at the wheel and woke up very grateful to be alive.
"Think about the things you are grateful for," Kathy said as we lay flat on our backs. Suddenly she was unfolding a blanket and stretching it over me. "You look cool," she said, and even though I didn't feel cool, the blanket felt nice. Under the blanket, with my palms turned up and my toes extended, I realized that I had just replaced my snooze-alarm routine with yoga. I had found my morning stride. I had found grace for the morning.
That is, I had found grace for Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 6:00 - 7:00. As far as the rest of the week is concerned, I suppose I could try dunking my head in cold water or popping in Yoga for Dummies.