Birthday Yoga Challenge Day 14: Because I can

I wake up on this Saturday morning just in time to get ready for an 8am yoga class. I lie in bed for a few moments, limbs still tangled with sleep.

Not fully awake I get ready. Brush my teeth. Wash my face. Tug on my yoga clothes and a warm sweatshirt.

I walk out into a day which tastes vaguely of autumn.  Blue-bright sky, crisp, clean air and the windshield of my car bejeweled with dew.

There are few people on the roads at 7:15am and I drive in the warm cocoon of my car, still wearing the blanket of the nights slumber around my shoulders. My mind is quiet, not yet having had reason to kick into its daily frenetic dance.

I walk into the studio to a warm, sweet greeting from its owner. Her name is Grace. And on this quiet, oddly reverent Saturday morning Grace is not just her name but her purpose.

This morning the warmth of the practice room is as welcoming as a  lover’s arms.  I feel as if I am being reunited with my beloved after a long absence and I sigh with relief as I sink onto my mat. I lie with eyes closed, letting my body melt into the floor, which somehow feels as soft as a pillow-top mattress.

Then Grace walks into the room, and she is bearing gifts, for she is carrying grace in her open arms. It is lodged in her heart and spilling forth from her mouth as she begins to lead the class. It walks with her as she easily moves through the room, barely seeming to disturb the air around her. She moves her arms as if dancing, charming our bodies into moving more deliberately and stretching more deeply. Occasionally her slim fingers land with dragon fly lightness on a students shoulders as if delivering some healing touch.

She instructs us with the precision, but she does so with supreme gentleness and compassion. I am in the back of the room today and I notice that for much of the class she stands just behind me and a little to my left. She is like a light shadow behind me. I find her presence there calming and reassuring. It seems to remind me that I am not alone.

Astonishingly my mind remains quiet. It is a like a deep pool. Midnight blue and reflecting back my image in the mirror with a clarity that is unsullied by the usual thrashing of my monkey mind. I gaze at myself in the mirror and I am as focused and calm as I have ever been in a class. I am achingly aware of my body, my breath, my muscles. My very being.

I am also hyper-aware of Grace’s instructions. I hear every softly uttered direction and I follow it to the letter. My body, stretches, reaches, tightens, holds and releases in perfect rhythm with her directives. All of us in the room, move in unison and everyone seems aware of the grace in the room with us.

With almost every instruction Grace reminds us that we can do this. We can hold these poses. We can breath more deeply. We can hold on for one second more. We can choose to stay present. We can choose not to freak out. We can choose to be gentle with ourselves. We can choose to be grateful for our bodies, our minds, our lives.

“Focus on your breath  and go a little deeper here. Because you can.

“Focus. Meditate. Stay. Stay. Because you can.

“Because you can.”

It is a mantra which begins to sing in my bones and in my sinews until my body is vibrating with it.

“Because I can.”

At one point she kneels next to the man on my right to guide him into fixed firm pose. It is only his second class and I can see doubt in his eyes as she explains to him how to get his body into the posture.

Grace doesn’t give up and slowly but surely he gets himself into an almost full expression of the posture.

This is Fixed Firm - a posture I cannot do fully (YET). My knees and ankles are so tight and sore that I have to stay upright on my knees.

“I didn’t think I could do it,”  he says.

“But I knew you could,” Grace replies.

“You must learn to trust what you can do  and to let go of what  you believe you can’t.”

There it is. The gift of class this morning and the gift of this practice in general.

It is the gift of to learning to trust what I can d0 and letting go of everything else.

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