Maya Angelou’s quote could not be more poignant now:
“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
Never mind that Christmas has passed, it’s not rainy and (as far as I know) the airline has not lost my luggage…yet.
I’ve been at the airport for the better half of the day trying to fly home standby on a buddy pass after a weekend away in Vegas. Granted, Vegas is an unlikely destination for a newly sober yogi like me. Though I love to roll the dice, I’ve been here two days longer than one should ever stay in Vegas. The sound of slot machines ringing in my ears as well as the putrid smoke lingering in my hair will take days to die.
I keep thinking about how if I had been stuck in an airport months ago, I’d be contentedly drinking.
I teach yoga to people—mostly women—who become dead set on punishing themselves after a week away from the mat. I remind them, “Treat yourself with kindness, like it’s your first day back on the job.”
I’m tempted to berate myself already after a week away, a week during which I said yes—actually a more emphatic hell yes—to, “More bread?” and “Dessert tonight?” I cannot wait to get home to my fresh pressed juice and worn-in mat. I cannot wait to get home to practice yoga. But it has occurred to me that I’ve been practicing yoga the whole time I’ve been on this trip.
My practice began with neck release on the plane followed by ujjayi breath with a kumbhaka to keep me from strangling the drunk girls—one of whom could have very well been me six months ago—who cackled two rows behind me. From there, it evolved to core work on the hotel floor with a rolled up towel between my thighs.
Yesterday, when I realized I wouldn’t be able to get home as I planned, I stood on my hands. That was right before I snapped at my partner in a rare diva moment in the hotel lobby where we would now begrudgingly be staying for the night, which was right after I sent a text to all of my Monday clients. One client’s very apt response was, “I always find a few lions’ breaths helpful to get past TSA.”
Today, I’m practicing the art of allowing, as I remind myself that my plane—like challenging poses and transitions—will come when the time is right.
As I sit literally and figuratively grounded, the first chakra truth, all is one, becomes more relevant. Nothing occurs outside the divine order of all things.
I believe that first and foremost, our yoga practice should make us more humane—even on a rainy day, in light of lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
My mat has prepared me for the most challenging pose of all: “airportasana.”
And so, until that plane comes, I’ll be over in the corner on this questionable carpet creating a floor series as I envision and attract empty airline seats. The best sequences, I have found, come out of necessity. This one’s sure to be a doozy.
I’m so glad I remembered to pack my yoga practice. I’m finding that I rarely forget it these days. It’s becoming less of a practice and more of a way of being.
Amber Shumake lives in a suburb of Ft. Worth, TX – over twenty miles from the nearest yoga studio. Gallivanting the metroplex in her Jeep, she rides topless while rocking out to spiritual podcasts. She calls Karmany Yoga, the donation-based studio where she teaches, “home.” Trading one compulsive addiction for another, she currently prefers backbends to drugs and tea to coffee. Uniting yoga with therapy, she wipes away sweat and tears, illuminating others to their beauty—breath by breath. A born writer, she encourages others to revise the life stories that no longer serve them and dreams of marrying her partner, writing a book, and changing the world. Connect with her virtually on Facebook Facebook.com/ambershumake and Twitter @AmberShumake and her blog www.BackbendAddict.blogspot.com.
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Asst: Terri Tremblett
Ed: Brianna Bemel