It’s Sunday morning, and I lay out my mat near the window along the back wall of the studio.
It’s a winter day, and the sky is blue and cloudless. It’s cold, but the sun is shining, and I am glad my parking spot is several blocks away. It’s good to walk in the early morning quiet, only a few others out and about on this bright and beautiful day.
The class before ours is crowded, and the room gets heated, so those leaving pry open the windows in their wake. I keep my long sleeves on while setting up, chatting with some of the others and trying to warm up my mat, still cold from the night it spent in the car.
This class is Rocket yoga. It’s challenging and strenuous and one of my favorites. It’s an interesting mix of people, and an interesting mix of flows and inversions and arm balances. I am pushed to my limits each time.
The instructor closes the windows against the sunny, chilled air and starts the music. The demanding sequence is set against a soundtrack that I would call easy listening. It’s definitely Sunday morning music, even if the workout is anything but.
Come to the top of your mats, she says, and all the lounging yogis slowly stand at attention.
It starts. We reach up and there follows the flow of several Sun As, after which we flow into several Sun Bs. My eyes follow my arms as they lift to the ceiling, then look down for the fold to the floor. We continue through our Vinyasas, from Chatarunga (low push up) to Urdhva Mukha (upward facing dog) to Adho Mukha (downward facing dog).
The instructor calls out the Sanskrit words, and her voice becomes as easy listening as the music. Our shadows flow across the floor as we flow through the Sun postures.
I realize that the shadow I think is mine is really my neighbor’s to the right, and that mine is really on the mat of the neighbor to my left.
The sun from the window behind me has moved us over one spot each! It shines on my back and my neighbor’s, too, making a great big sun spot that stretches out across the floor, window panes and all.
We move into the part of the practice with the twists, rinsing to one side and then to the other. The music has made its way into my head, and I have to concentrate on breathing and not singing as I place one hand to the mat and the other to the ceiling before binding and twisting to the side.
With each twist to the right, I face the window that’s behind me and my neighbor. We look back over our shoulders as our hips face forward and our torsos turn back.
Each time I do this, I close my eyes in the face of the sun. Its heat matches the heat I’m building on the inside, and I let it wash over me.
My mind immediately moves to our wonderful chocolate lab, Chelsea. She was a special dog, a true member of the family. Sweet, beautiful, kind and gentle, I would swear she understood full sentences.
We chose her from a large litter but it was really as if she had chosen us. She came right over and lay across the top of our shoes.
I carried her home and, each night after work, when I made a salad at the sink, Chelsea would lay on top of my feet.
When she was older, she graduated from our feet to the sun spots. I could tell the time of day by where she lay as she made her way around the house with the sun.
The day began in the foyer’s morning sun spot and progressed to the landing on the stairs to what we then dubbed The Chelsea Carpet, for all the time she spent sunbathing there.
Our dog is no longer with us, but she often comes to mind as she did this day when I was lucky enough to have the Sunday morning sun at yoga.
We enter the final portion of the practice, and I do my best to land in Hanumanasana, the splits. I never quite got these in my teens nor ever imagined I’d be trying again now.
We face the back wall, and I grab two blocks and place them on either side, lowering myself to the mat. I put my face up to the sun and close my eyes, listening to the music, willing my body down between the blocks.
I turn to my neighboring yogi and there she is, no blocks, in full splits, seated comfortably on her mat. Her arms are lifted above her head with her palms pressed together, and her heart is lifted, too, as she bends back and puts her face to the sun.
I lean over, interrupting her pose.
We are taking your picture after class, I said. There, like that, in that spot.
And afterward we do just that. It is a beautiful picture, and she looks beautiful in it. She is excited to see her pose captured in the photograph.
But to me, it captures even more. It captures the sun spot.
It washes over her, and she looks the way I felt – special -- when soaked in the Sunday morning sun at yoga.