August 5, 2017

My Holiest Yoga Practice wasn’t Mine at All.

It takes me a few minutes to notice there’s no music playing.

I smile with my eyes closed. She did this on purpose.

Where’s your breath? What’s the dialogue in the mind? What’s the feeling? Are you listening? 

“Take this moment to set an intention for your practice if that speaks to you,” offers this friend, this sister, this teacher that my intuition led me to on this sweltering Tuesday morning.

Compassion. Patience. Trust.

Hundreds of practices. Hundreds of intentions. It occurs to me that I’m not sure how meaningful that feels and I’m a little surprised at my own questioning. At the honesty of it.

Is this actually going to mean something? Am I truly resonating with this intention? What will that really mean for this practice?

I wonder, and then…

“Dedicate this,” says a voice from somewhere within. Again—hundreds of practices, hundreds of dedications. Has that, a dedication, ever honestly made me feel anything? Really?

What if…what if it did?

I think of a friend. “I feel so saturated,” he said on the other end of a FaceTime call with his face lit up in the orange glow of street lamps. He’s driving—to get away from it all. But I couldn’t hear him. I didn’t hear him. Not at all. Not then.

But I hear him now. In this room. On this mat. In my body. I hear him. I feel him.

It wasn’t long ago when I was the saturated one. When I had just come home from something so sacred and when the world was painted in all these new colors that I couldn’t label yet and I felt so…yeah…saturated.

He was soft for me, then. Am I being soft for him now?

All I can think is to give him this yoga.

What if everything I do, think, feel, for the next hour and some-odd minutes, what if I could give it to him?

What if he could feel this breath? And this one. If I let my heart open, what if he could feel that too?

What if I inhaled and his chest expanded? What if when I exhaled, his belly drew in toward his spine and he let something go?

What if I grew the capacity for spaciousness in the cave in the back of my heart and he felt that quality in the stretching of his own skin? What if he felt that? Freedom.

What if this practice were a devotion?

I close my eyes and I keep them closed. My body, my movement, my breath, rooted in nothing but an intention to let him feel…something. Anything. Everything.

Every asana, pause: What does he need in this shape? What does he need with this breath in? What does he need with this breath out?

I just get quiet. Listen for the information I know, just know, will come in this flow state. I search my own body for the sticking points and stay there, linger there, get curious there, feel uncomfortable there, find something soft there, wait, just wait for a breakthrough there.

Movement is slow and deliberate and I am sweating from every single pore from my temples to my chest to the backs of my hands to the small of my back. I can feel the beads as they travel. I know he can too. I know a cleansing is taking place.

I remember his voice, a week ago, watching a sunset he wanted to share. “I feel balanced here.”

For 90 minutes I let form be led by just that: finding balance. And I feel him in every micro-adjustment. Everywhere my drishti lands, I see his penetrating gaze of hazel staring back.

I see you, now.

She brings us to the floor. “Sometimes, the most sensation is in the release.” 

Suddenly, it’s so clear. My right hand on my belly and my left hand on my heart. I feel him. I can’t stop smiling. Sometimes, being close actually looks like space. Sometimes, the greatest expression of love and care can be found in the distance between our respective ends of the pendulum. I know without question that he’s with me, here. That I’m with him, there. That a channel between us is opened in this devotion. That this is enough.

In all of my years, my most potent life lessons have come from yoga.

On a hot Tuesday morning in July, led to practice by an inward pull, yoga taught me the true meaning of devotion. It showed me how to surrender to service, by giving every single bit of my being—so that someone else may know that they’re held.

I said, “This is for you, whatever that means,” and it was the holiest yoga my mat has ever seen.

I know you felt that. I know.

Relephant reads:

5 Minutes to Peace.

Yoga is Keeping Me Together.


Author: Stef Osofsky
Images: Author’s Own & Oak Media
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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