My mat is shared property now.
Rolled tightly, bound to my hiking backpack with an old headband-turned-travel-necessity, my thin little yoga mat travelled time zones, cultures, and immigration offices to land right here, on this patch of cement in the very back corner of a guest house property in Chingola, Zambia.
The sun is brilliantly hot, scorching my ill protected nose without remorse. But I couldn’t care less—the vibrancy of the warmth is welcome after a week of rain storms, and the energy is contagious.
My playlist is exquisite—upbeat, head-bobbing, grooving, tropical paradise kind of music. After a few days without any practice, this is a kick-ass, take no prisoners kind of vinyasa. And everyone wants in.
In Chataranga Dandasana, I realize that my solitary practice is unexpectedly one in a full class. My mat has visitors: each one with six little legs, all ready to dance to a Divine rhythm.
At first, the ants bother me; I even use my five breath pause in Downward Facing Dog sweep my hand across the mat—clearing away any unwanted visitors.
By my third Sun Salutation, I realize how ridiculous this is: A: The ants won’t stop coming—my mat is right in their line of traffic. And B: Aren’t I always begging people to join me in yoga, hoping to increase class sizes, encouraging more light in the world, wishing that more of creation would choose a Thursday morning to move and heal together? Here, my class is already full of moving little bodies and legs.
I purposely forgo pratyhara and instead dance with the ants; I endeavor not to ignore them, but to honor them, welcome them, enjoy them. The question arises: what other “ants” do I allow to bother me? What other tiny, insignificant issues crawl onto my mat and taunt me with annoyance?
I can spend two fruitless hours sweeping these distractions away in frustration or I can allow them to stay; I can “yoga with them.”
The sun will still shine, tomorrow will still approach with newness, the moment will be lived even more fully because it is shared.
Next time you have an ant get in the way of your awesome vinyasa, or your longed-for silent hour of meditation, or your making it to a meeting on-time, or your biggest deadline at work, remind yourself that it is only an ant.
The ants will never be absent from your life because life is full; it is shared with billions of other people on this planet.
Life is always shared property.
The more welcoming you are to every bit of it—even the annoying little ants—the fuller it will be.
Lisa is a yoga instructor and Community of Christ minister from Kansas City, Missouri. She currently works as an educational consultant for HealthEd Connect, a non-profit organization committed to empowering women and children through evidence-based health, education and advocacy programs. She serves as a Teacher Mentor Program Specialist for community school educators in Zambia. When she’s not adventuring around sub-Saharan Africa, she’s at home in Kansas City teaching yoga to babies, kiddos, mommies, grandmas and everyone in between. You may contact her at: [email protected]
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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