"There will be an answer. Let it be.” ~ Let It Be, The Beatles
I’m on my way to yoga. It’s the middle of winter, but I’m dressed as if it were spring!
The temperatures outside are a little out of whack, and, aside from the politics of the day, it’s all anyone seems to be talking about. As a matter of fact, just as soon as the Obamas left town the weather seems to have gone upside down! With their departure came a major shift in the atmosphere, and ever since then the heavens above have been a reflection of the chaos down here.
In just a few short weeks, Mercury has gone into retrograde and back, and there’ve been bans and protests and alternate facts. And when the Snow moon tried to appear, full and big and bright one night, an eclipse swallowed it up and promptly turned off its light. And of course there was the shortage of yarn for certain pink hats, and then a comet streaked by soon after that!
Nobody likes it when things are out of whack. When that happens, most of us just want our balance back. And usually we’ll do anything to accomplish that, especially if we want things to be fixed fast.
I leave the house in a sleeveless top and drive with the windows open to a practice that’s not too far from home. Within a few minutes, I’m already at the studio and parked. It’s been a while since I’ve practiced here, but these days I’ve somehow circled back to where I began, and I’ve been glad for the chance to learn as much as I can.
I used to be someone who had to fix things fast, whenever anything was out of whack. I think this was because for so long I was usually able to do most of what I set my mind to, and so I never really had to learn how to wait anything out. Most things just worked out. It was the same for my best friend. I even remember her mother fretting over our various successes.
“What’s going to happen when one of you girls fails at something?” she would ask.
I never understood her worry; but, at the time, we were still young and hadn’t really made our way out into the world. Of course, since then, many years have passed, and during this time my train hasn’t always stayed on its track. I’ve had some times when I so desperately wanted my balance back, and I could never fix things fast enough for that.
But I’ve learned something important from all of those times. I’ve learned that even though life can turn on a dime, my balance can make its way back, if I just give it time. For the universe is a patient place, and it always circles back with a plan, if I can just wait.
I enter the studio and put away my things and roll out my mat in the practice room. Without realizing it, I’ve already gravitated toward a particular spot each time I’m here. It’s in the middle of the room, right up front where the wall breaks. It’s a good spot to go upside down, with the wall nearby to secure my inversions and with some extra space to my right, too, in case I lose my balance.
The music starts and we’re called to the top of our mats. Haste makes waste here, and before I know it we’re sitting in Chair pose. Right at the top of the practice and all the way through, we work on our balance. While still in Chair pose, we simply lift one foot and then place it down, and then lift the other and put that one down, too.
Slowly the practice builds, and we start doing all sorts of things while still balancing on one foot. We lean into Warrior Three and bend at the knee and then straighten again. We turn to the side and fill the room with many Half Moons and then reverse our hips for their eclipse.
We do this on the right and then we do it on the left. We’re told to move slowly, and it’s a challenge to keep my train on track; but, each time I wobble, I try not to fix things too fast.
“Relax,” the instructor tells the class.“ Breathe.” I pause and take a breath. The wait works and my balance circles back.
Still on one foot, we return to Warrior Three and from there we tip into Standing Split. I tilt forward, lifting my back leg higher and higher, until I can’t help but keep going, and I place my hands on the ground and then lift myself upside down.
And this is what it’s all about for me. The practice of yoga is a quest for balance, and each practice is another chance for me to find it. And when I’m able to find it like this, I feel strong and brave and spry. And when I can’t, I don’t have to wonder why or fix anything fast. I just have to wait for the balance to make its way back. And that’s a good thing for me to practice. In fact, it’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned on the mat.
“We’re in Plank!” I hear the instructor say.
I lower down and rejoin the others, and soon we bring ourselves even closer to the ground. We’re on our forearms now, and we tiptoe forward, hiking our hips up high in Dolphin pose. And, as before, I can’t help but keep going, and, in the same quest, I lift myself upside down again, only this time I’m trying for Scorpion.
Scorpion is a backbend, and I seem to have some resistance to it. The instructor comes over to help. He wants me to make a better circle by bending my knees with my feet toward the ground and then bending my back so that I make myself round.
“There’s balance in the circle,” he says.
He points out the part of my back where I need to open more in order to make this happen. It’s near the top and in the middle, in a spot that’s hard for me to find. But he tells me that once I’m able to find it, my whole practice will open up. And this plan appeals to me, even though I know that I’ll have to be patient. There’s something about the circle that’s universal, and that means it’ll take some time.
Soon after, the practice is over, and I roll up my mat and gather my things. And, even though it’s time to leave, what I want to do is stay. I want to circle back to the practice room and listen to more music and go upside down again. But I know there’ll be another chance at the balance on another day, and so I say goodbye and step outside.
It’s dark, and the warm weather still surprises me. I walk over to my car and put my mat in the back, and as I reach up to close the hatch, I see a beautiful sight. All the stars are out tonight! They, too, have circled back to where they began, as part of their nightly universal plan. While I was inside practicing, each one had blinked into place, against the blackest sky, somewhere out in space.
And because tonight it’s pretty calm from where I stand, I get to catch the balance again, just by looking up at them.