Repeating Numbers

Repeating Numbers

“A B C. It’s easy as 1 2 3, as simple as do re mi, A B C, 1 2 3 … “ ~ ABC, Jackson Five

I was at yoga the other night for an eight o’clock class, and, for the first time in years, the instructor was running late. But that was okay with us, as we ourselves had lost track of time. We were all happily seated in the practice room, visiting each other’s mats, chatting and catching up from the week.

The door finally opened. It was the instructor. 

“I’m so sorry I’m late,” she said. “It’s already 8:08!”

808 is a significant number for me. When I was a little girl, my parents encouraged my siblings and I to learn our home address by heart. That way, if we were ever to get lost, we would be able to tell someone where we lived. Our street number was 808, an easy enough number to remember. I remember practicing my address earnestly, reciting it over and over, like the words of a favorite song. As a result, the lyrics embedded themselves so deeply in my consciousness that, to this day, 808 is a number that’s as fresh in my mind as it was when I was a child.     

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Surrender

Surrender

“Little darling, it’s been a long and lonely winter.” ~ James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma

We’re in the middle of what’s turned out to be one of the moodiest winters in my memory.

We’ve braced ourselves against some of the coldest temperatures in history and basked in temperatures warmer than they ever should be.

It’s as if Mother Nature were battling herself, hesitant to fully emerge into her own season, even though it’s one that’s already here. But that’s okay, because, in our own way, I think we’ve been doing the same.  

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Prayer

Prayer

“I pray you’ll be our eyes and watch us where we go and help us to be wise in times when we don’t know.” ~ The Prayer, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli

It’s Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish New Year. It’s the Day of Atonement, the day when we fast and ask G-d for his forgiveness for any and all of our sins. All day we pray to be entered into the Book of Life, and when the sun sets, the gate on this opportunity closes until this same time next year, when we get to pray for forgiveness again.

This year, the High Holiday has fallen on a Saturday. I wake up and brew some coffee and then mix up a green shake. I tend to faint when I fast, and so it’s been a while since I have. And with my children all grown up, I no longer belong to a synagogue. And so these days I opt to spend the high holidays at hot yoga, where I’m always able to find something spiritual in the sweat. Today I shower and sign up for class and leave the house with my hair still wet.

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Rise

Rise

Come with me. Leave yesterday behind and take a giant step outside your mind.” ~ Take a Giant Step, The Monkees

It’s been a long day.

I arrive home from work and grab a quick bite and am about to go upstairs to my room in order to change into my yoga clothes for my evening practice.

But to leave the kitchen and get to the steps, I have to pass the most comfortable chair in the house. It’s big and soft and green, and it fits me perfectly. I often sit with my feet propped up on its matching hassock, or, more often, I sit sideways with my shoulders propped up on one side and my legs hanging over the other.

Needless to say, I don’t quite make it to the steps. I sit down in the chair instead and cover myself with a quilt, thinking I still have a few minutes to watch a little television.

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Loss

Loss

“Limitless undying love, which shines around me like a million suns, it calls me, on and on, across the universe.” ~ Across the Universe, The Beatles

Last night at yoga we did a few stretches before we were called to the tops of our mats for the start of practice. Once there, the instructor asked us to set an intention.

I used to set an intention by making a wish, like a private prayer. But I’d struggle to come up with something quickly, and I couldn’t always get it done. So I started to simplify things, and now I just conjure up an image, usually one of someone I love, and then I wait to see what comes to mind.

Last night the image was my son, decked out for the swim portion of the New York City Triathlon. He was in his wet suit, wearing goggles and a bathing cap, mid-air in a feet-first jump into the Hudson River!

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Space

Space

“I’ll rise up, in spite of the ache. I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again.” ~ Rise Up, Andra Day

My daughter had a tragic loss that's left a gaping space. And so I’m spending time beside her, as she struggles to find her place.

In yoga, I hear so much about space. We’re supposed to make space, clear space and even hold space. When I first started practicing, I didn’t understand. But soon the practice grabbed a hold of me, and, like a key, it opened up a space inside. And it’s in this space where all my incremental shifts take place.

My daughter’s world has shifted. She’s lost her love. Without warning, the man who was always there was suddenly nowhere. And even though she knows he’s gone, she can’t help but try to find him. She searches for him and yearns for him and wants to talk to him.

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Bare Feet

Bare Feet

I’m trying to remember why I was afraid to be myself and let the covers fall away. ~ Naked, Avril Lavigne

I climb three flights of stairs to get to my yoga class.

And when I reach the top I am greeted by dozens of shoes. It’s warm outside and the landing is a maze of flip flops and sandals.

I stop and stare at the shoes. For some reason I am so happy to see them, as if I’ve been greeted by the people they fit! I don’t know why I feel this way. They belong to those in the class before mine, and I don’t even know whose they are! But here are their shoes, their spirits still in them, standing to greet me.

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Flying

Flying

Anne flies with instructor Jonathan Ewing (pants by www.vivashaktiyoga.com)

Fly by night, away from here. Change my life again. ~ Fly By Night, Rush

When I was little, my father used to fly me around on his feet.

He'd lay on his back and put his feet on my stomach and lift me into the air like Superman.

Other times, he’d lay on the floor and put up his knees. I’d climb on top and perch there, placing my feet in his hands, driving an imaginary car while I pressed into his palms with my right foot on the gas and my left one on the brakes.

Of course when my children were little I’d do this with them, too, only we’d drive on top of the bed to accommodate the wild turns. In addition to their imaginary stops for donuts, they’d steer recklessly from atop my knees, flying overboard in all directions for wild and crazy landings softened by the mattress.

And now, after all these years, I am flying again! There is something called Acro yoga, and it’s just the flying game all over again for grownups.

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Imagination

Imagination

We are stardust, we are golden. We are billion years old carbon. And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

~ Woodstock, Crosby, Stills & Nash

I’ve been looking at the sky since I was a little girl.

I look up when I leave the house in the morning, and I look up when I arrive home in the evening. All throughout the day, all I have to do is look out the window. Our offices occupy the top floor of a building, so I get to work right in the sky!

Really, if it were possible to keep my eyes open, I’d watch the stars all night.

There is some kind of tie between yoga and the heavens. It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but for me there seems to be a connection between the practice and what’s going on up there. This seems to be what grounds me.

If I try to put this into words, I’d say the sky is limitless, and when I move on the mat, I feel limitless, too.

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Bareness

Bareness

Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife. ~ The Bare Necessities, The Jungle Book

I usually get up and get dressed every morning, except for Saturdays. On Saturday mornings, I get up and get undressed.

This is the morning of my hot yoga practice, and it’s a bare one. The room is fairly bare. There’s a big Om on the wall, but that’s all. I am almost bare, my pants are cropped and so is my top. Even the instructor’s mat is bare. It lies empty while he teaches from all corners of the room.

It’s just too hot for any sort of cover. One step into the room, and the heat has already stripped away whatever I may have on. By the time I unroll my mat, I’ve no choice but to be there bare.

On this particular Saturday, it is overcast and quiet and, somehow, at just one day past Halloween, it is already a true November. There’s a chill in the air and the wind is blowing, baring the trees of their leaves that have only recently begun to change. At this early hour, downtown has yet to be dressed, too, and I easily find parking in the empty streets.

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Blessings

Blessings

I'll say a little prayer for you. Forever, forever, you'll stay in my heart. ~ I'll Say A Prayer For You, Aretha Franklin

I have a buddha in a bubble!

My children surprised me with a snow globe that houses a golden Buddha, seated in a peaceful womb of gold and glittering with sparkles that alight on his shoulders, his head, his hands, his lap and his feet.

Every morning, I shake my buddha!

And I watch as my vanity lights illuminate the sparkles as they glisten and swirl in a dance to start the day.

At the closing of one of my very first yoga practices, I sat for the first time with my hands in prayer while the instructor said a few words.

He instructed us to exhale what we no longer needed and to inhale some goodness into its place. After the practice, I was so hypnotized, I would have followed any instruction, and this seemed easy enough. I was surprised how visual it was for me, and I exhaled what I imagined as the color gray, and I inhaled what I imagined as the color white.

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Step Up

Step Up

I just take one step closer to you. And even when I've fallen down, my heart says follow through. ~ One Step Closer, Michael Franti

Step to the top of your mats.

This is what the instructor says at the beginning of most every yoga class.

I hear this so much that it’s automatic to simply step to the top when I’m told. I can be finishing a conversation, coming up from a seat or coming down from a stretch. It doesn’t matter. Everything stops, my mind clears, and I step to the top.

But last week, I heard something else.

Step to the top of your mats, the instructor announced. 

And when I did so, my mind, on its own accord, suddenly responded in silence, Reporting for duty!

I’ve never really had a thought surprise me. I usually know what I’m thinking about. But, that day, this response was as automatic as my step to the top. And even though no one could hear my mind speak out, everyone else reported for duty, too.

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Stillness

Stillness

How can I possibly be inconspicuous when my flow is so ridiculous? ~ I’ll Be Around, Cee-lo Green

I was at an evening yoga class with a guest instructor who arrived with a great big welcome, his greeting warming the room, and his smile inviting many in return.

This is a Level Two class, he announced. So, what would you like to work on?

With each answer, he jokingly upped the ante, saying, Oh, hips? That’s a 3.23 class!. Inversions? That’s a 5.67 class! Backbends? That’s a 10.789 class!

He asked us what we wanted and got us laughing when we answered, promising us a high energy class and lifting us with that of his own before landing the room in a quiet meditation with a poem and a chant. 

I was happy to be there, sitting next to a friend who was leaving town and among others I knew as well. I felt cozy as evening fell outside the windows, darkening the room in a stillness filled with the rhythmic voice of the instructor.

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False Starts

False Starts

ometimes we only think we know where we should be.

The other night, for whatever reason, I was not supposed to be at yoga. I don’t know why, and I never will, but I was not supposed to be there.

That’s not to say I didn’t try. Believe me, I did!

In yoga, we’re told to trust the process. I’ve heard this saying lots of times, but it’s only recently that I’ve begun to understand its meaning. I think it means that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at the time we are there, even if we think we should be elsewhere.

And the other night I got the chance to trust this process.

For whatever reason, my best efforts to get to yoga landed me right back where I started. I don’t know why, and I never will; but, in the end, I think I have to trust that I was just not supposed to be there.

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Certainty

Certainty

Sometimes you just know what you know.

I’ve always had a bit of a sixth sense, but that doesn’t mean I can see the future or always pave what I think might be a good path. 

This heightened intuition is a knowing that is difficult to describe. The best I can do is to say that if a truth could be touched, it would feel like this. This might sound vague, but the feeling is anything but.

When I am practicing yoga, I can experience a sensation similar to this sixth sense. In a pose or after a practice, a calmness comes at me, and I feel centered and light and surprised. 

It is like the feeling I get when an old favorite song comes on the radio: Oh, I know this!

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Crown

Crown

Something's going on in my head!

I have to admit that what I like best about yoga is the workout. Each and every time, though, I am surprised by the after effects.

There is something spiritual about each practice. No matter the studio, no matter the instructor, no matter the style.

I’m not always conscious of how the practice touches my spirit; instead, I just know that I feel different afterwards.

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Validation

Validation

It's not always easy to tell the truth.

You can’t find the truth anywhere but in yourself.

These were the instructor’s words as we lay in pigeon pose the other night in yoga.

You can’t find it in a book, you can’t find it in your teacher, you can’t find it in anybody else.

I must admit his words brought me up short. If the truth is inside of me, then I want to know where exactly!

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Fear

Fear

I'm hoping the third time's a charm.

I hit my head at yoga. Then, I did it again and, shortly thereafter, once more.

These three hits happened accidentally on purpose as part of my efforts to drop into a backbend from standing.

It’s scary, but I am not ready to stop. I console myself with the thought that hitting one’s head is supposed to happen in three’s so, hopefully, I’ve also hit my quota.

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Seeing Stars

Seeing Stars

I've been seeing stars at yoga.

As soon as you see the floor, put your hands down!

The instructor is standing in front of me, holding my hips. My hands are in prayer at my heart.

The plan is for me to bend backwards and look for the floor, tilting over and saving myself last minute with my hands.

I think most people can probably identify a time when they’ve had to save themselves last minute. Such challenges can just be part of life, the part where you learn, the part where your head spins and you see stars.

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Reconnection

Reconnection

You are loved by a God that is as close as your breath.

These words were hanging from the ceiling of a class I attended. They had nothing to do with the class. They were just part of the room in which it was held.

The class took place at night, a couple hours after work. I had already decided to stay home and had changed into my evening get-up, a funny striped long tee with a half sweater overtop and grandma peds on my feet. It is the outfit no one sees me in but in which I am most comfy.

For whatever reason, soon after I changed my mind and my get-up and left the house.

I arrived at class, sat down and looked up.

Each word was written on a card and hung from a string across the ceiling. The first word, You, was missing, and the cards were not aligned. They zigzagged, and it was difficult to decipher. Throughout the class, I kept looking up, trying to line up the words.

Before the evening's end, I had it.

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