I’m not a morning person, despite all musculature to the contrary.
I’m having dinner with my partner Ross, oohing and mmm-ing over the outrageously sumptuous coconut squash soup he crafted for us, as he launches into a “Ten Things I Appreciate About Dani” monologue. Among the traits that make the list are my presence, my love of words, and my fierce disregard for status quo.
We retire early, as we are wont to do when I sleep over, there is the matter of my 6 A.M. Ashtanga practice to preemptively honor.
Ashtanga has been my primary path since I stumbled into Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ dingy old Ashtanga Research Institute in Mysore back in 1999. Throughout the years, I’ve bumped up against various reasons to knock the practice, but none of them really stuck, except my aversion to sunrise.
The alarm goes off at five in the morning, ripping me from the cozy confines of deep, deep sleep, and Ross’s warm, toasty embrace. I race to turn it off so as not to wake him, which means snoozing it isn’t an option, which is fine, because what’s the point?
Seven minutes of panic sleep isn’t going to render me more rested, or make the bed any less cozy.
Unwinding myself from Ross’ naked body, and the heavy top layer of down and flannel that shelters us is pure agony. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s all the conditions that encourage normal people to stay asleep. But, I’m not a normal person, I’m an Ashtangi.
I tip-toe to the bathroom to wrench myself into a sports bra, and Lycra tights, and a thermal and a sweatshirt and leg warmers and sweat pants, and all the rest of my winter gear, to brave the mountain morning and all the icy elements that accompany it.
All of this so that I can get myself onto the mat and into my center.
I glide past the bed, ninja-style, to retrieve my iPhone and my wool socks—the ones I wish I’d thought to put on before braving the terracotta tile floor to get dressed.
Ross coos, and shifts position such that he’s sprawled across the entire bed. All I want to do is rip off my dozen layers of winter gear and dive under the covers with him.
I’m the Ashtanga kind of lunatic—the kind, who’s been getting up at dawn for thirteen years to Ujayi breathe my way through sunrise because it serves me, even though it never gets easier.
Contrary to the beliefs held by those who know of my six-day-a-week ritual and say, “I could never do that”, I’m not a morning person. When my alarm vibrates at 5 A.M. I am never excited to be ripped from my sweet, soothing dream-time visions to exercise.
Getting up sucks, always, and it sucks only about a zillion times more when I’m naked and cozy in my boyfriend’s arms and my stupid higher self insists on encouraging me to show up for myself, regardless of how cold and dark and snowy it is.
I slip on my Sorels. That’s a lie. I slip on a cheap pair of Sorel knock-offs that are vegan and fleece-lined and waterproof. I pull on my parka. I grab my keys and silently shut the door. I start the car and get out again, scraper in hand, to muscle the ice off the windshield.
There are a million stars out, all of them cheering me on with their enduring sparkly optimism, thrilled that I’ve made it up and out in time to appreciate them.
I’m the only car on the road. I’m always the only car on the road. I make it to the dance studio that doubles as my yoga shala because there’s no Mysore program in Santa Fe, and the folks who own the space are kind enough to let me use it while they sleep.
I beeline to the heater, crank it to 75, turn on the lights, roll out my mat, fold my rug under my butt, and sit down to meditate before starting primary series when my phone vibrates with an incoming text from the not-so-sleeping Ross:
Number 11: Your commitment to your body, soul and spirit.
I smile as I fold myself into lotus. Breathing into this here and this now, encouraged by the message and the love, as I show up—yet again—for this strong, healthy body that continues to support me along this path, by way of this practice.
I figure as long as I’m playing this crazy earth game that I might as well rock it, sleepy eyes, bed-bound boyfriend, cheering starlight and all.
Editor: Jennifer Cusano
Dani Katz established her reputation as one of Los Angeles’ finest literary talents by way of her bold voice, her expanded perspective and her mastery of language, having published hundreds of articles in the LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Whole Life Times, LA Yoga and Swindle, among others. In addition to her broad spectrum of practical experience and formal studies, including a Master’s Degree in Journalism, she has spent the past seven years immersed in the study of integrated languaging and conscious communication, researching and perfecting the myriad ways, whys and hows that language influences our every human experience. Katz currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she just finished writing her first book, which may or may not be called Love in the Time of Chemtrails.
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