Root to rise – on and off the mat



Genius, she is. Once again, after class ended and I asked Amy why she thought I couldn’t quite grasp one particular pose – she knew exactly what to say. It wasn’t the fact that every body type has different possibilities. It wasn’t about my scoliosis and it wasn’t about anyone’s talent in yoga. And sure, it’s definitely got something to do with the internal and external rotation of the hips, but that’s not the point either. She said, ‘most of the time, in yoga, if you can’t get to a pose – the key is, sit up higher’.

It all matters

It mattered. Class was at noon on Wednesday and on the way there I got the same AP alert on my phone as zillions of others – Supreme Court Justice Kennedy had announced his retirement. Like many others, this felt like another giant gut punch in a week that felt similar to the days following the election. Ugh! Children in cages, families ripped apart, unions threatened, human rights in jeopardy, senseless gun violence, the free press under attack, the world in turmoil and now this – seriously! Sometimes it feels like a good time to hide under the covers just to catch our breath. It’s hard to find the time to breathe, smile and figure out which issue to fight first no less carve the time to get to the mat – but that self-care matters and yesterday it mattered that much more.

On the walk home, I thought about what Amy said. Sure, in that moment, she was talking about the idea of putting a block under my hip and reaching on a downward angle towards the floor which would allow my back a different stretch than it ever had before. To me, the words held far more weight than those. It reminded me of another significant pearl of wisdom about going higher and reaching for better. It reminded me of decades of derision and lowly taunts of limited and hate-filled rhetoric and the charge to say ‘go high’, be the bigger person, aim for the better road, choose right. It sure isn’t easy. It’s a lot easier just to ditch the thought of ever hitting that pose, flinging up my hands and saying ‘I didn’t need that anyway’. But that’s not true, that’s not me and that sure isn’t the way to choose right, happy or joy – I know better, but we all have those moments.

Take a moment, take a deep breath – and roar

To me, her words meant more about trying to lift yourself and others up along the road of life. Through every journey, there have been highs and lows and hopefully along the long scope, we learn from both types of episodes. Both tell a story, chart a course and often set our souls on fire; but this time, it was something about the idea of elevating while standing your ground that made an impression. My twisted back and hips are rarely level, but with some assistance, they gain the stability to stand their ground. Perhaps, that’s what it all means. Perhaps whenever Amy starts her class with the idea of root through your feet to rise through the top of your head it means more. Perhaps, in this chaotic time where the world seems to turn on its head every minute of every day, that’s what we need to remember.

Personally we’ve been smacked a bit these past few months, but these recent weeks feel like the entire country took a whopper to the face and the hits have kept on coming. Perhaps the yoga analogies work more than I know. Most of the instructors I’ve ever had have uttered the phrase, ‘it’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect’ and remind yogis that making the time to show up on the mat is always a good idea. So sure, right this minute we’ll take any bit of wisdom we can get and find a way to extrapolate it out and apply it to greater life. Let’s keep practicing, keep helping, and keep lifting others up. My hips are happy when I show up on that mat and my heart is happy when I show up to support justice and helping others – so don’t give up.

Show up – you make a difference

Thanks for the reminder, Amy – those nuggets of goodness gleaned from a yoga class hold weight on and without question, off that yoga mat. Sometimes you need to take those moments of time to hide under the covers and take care of yourself. Sometimes you need to spend time away from it all, hug your loved ones, regroup, do something to lift your own spirits and then return to the fight. Sometimes you need to realize your limits, get that support and do what you can. And sometimes you shove that block or blanket under your hip, boost yourself up and set your soul on fire. It was true on Wednesday, it’s true today and it’ll be true tomorrow. It’s not easy, but I’m going to keep showing up. What about you?

4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Root to Rise, On and Off the Mat | Yoga One Blog

  2. Pingback: Finding Balance On The Mat | Yoga One Blog

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