Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Gently lifting arms with an inhale, wrists flacid, and on the exhale allowing the hands to drift back down to the thighs like seaweed softly undulating in the waves. A genuine effort for most of the 80+ year olds in the room, but their faces glow with peace and relaxation. Letting go of the tension in their fingers, of the clenching in the shoulders, they begin to sit taller, and settle their feet under their knees.
Eyes glowing after class, smiles readily spreading on faces, even with the very serious business of standing up and taking hold of their walkers, these students do not care if they are "practicing yoga" or "doing Tai Chi." We are sharing a morning of breath and presence, letting go of judging ourselves and each other. Sometimes I cannot help but exclaim, "Who would have thought we could be working so hard and feel so relaxed!?"
We do hard things. Sometimes the hard thing is communicating with toes, or attempting to lift one leg. Sometimes the hard thing is trying to inhale just a little more in a three-sip breath, or perhaps hold on the chair seat and lean to one side. Each body has its struggles, each mind has its resistance and predisposition.
Yet what happens is magical. Gratitude that we can inhale an arm upwards and release it on the exhale, that we can sigh an out-breath together to relish our effort and relieve more tension, that we feel lightness in our legs as we align the bones and let the earth carry us. It is this sharing, sweet and complex for every person in the room, that heals and encourages, that carries us through the dark times and hard losses. Again and again I bow to my students with reverence and gratitude.