I love Yoga, I really do. I discovered my practice a couple of years ago when my son and his girlfriend at the time gave Jim and me several sessions each for Christmas. Since then I've studied with many wonderful teachers, studied several different forms and definitely fallen more in love with the peace and flexibility that it brings me everytime that I practice.
Tonight though , we enjoyed a really extraordinary class. We used to go to one of the many designer studios that are available in Cleveland, but for the last year we've been working out at the local JCC. We love it, we spend an evening on the treadmills and bike, play with the weights and then jump into the whirlpool together and relax after our day. Well, one day Jim looked at the schedule and said "Hey, we should try one of their Yoga classes. " I thought to myself..."yuck...it can't possibly be as good". Boy was I about to be proven wrong.
To be sure, the practice room lacks the spiritual accoutrements of the boutique studios, but that's not where the heart of Yoga is. In walked our Yogi Eleanor, who quietly dimmed the lights and then led us through a series of movements that she designed specifically in honor of Earth Day, using all natural forms like the Tree and the cobra, but for the evening eschewing the bridge and wheel poses...no boat, nothing that wasn't animal ,vegetable or mineral. I was really blown away by the grounding nature of the series that she had designed. By the end of the class I was so grounded and so relaxed I was amazed. She ended of course in the traditional Shavasana, by placing us in corpse pose, which is just so incredibly relaxing, but although I've been practicing for several years now, tonight was the first time that I truly understood the deeper nature of this pose. Corpse pose is practiced by lying on the ground with your hands at your sides and your body literally falling into the deepest repose possible, through simple breathing and gravity.
Tonight though , Eleanor talked about her teacher and how he had always told her that "we practice relaxing into the corpse pose so that when the time comes we can really relax into the corpse pose". I was blown away by the simplicity of this statement. We spend our years and our lives literally running away from death and here someone was sweetly teaching me to prepare for it. I thought of the many "deaths' that we as humans experience throughout our lives and the kicking and screaming and fighting and throashing that we do when we are confronting that in our lives which has ended. I thought of my darling pony Studley, who I will be putting to sleep in several days because his body can no longer support itself and how he will just fall gently to the earth from which he came without even thinking about it. I saw him fall to the earth from his mothers womb, now I will see his life come full circle as he travels back to the mother of us all. I have suffered and agonized over this decision for a week now and yet in a moment of experiencing that deepest knowing I have realized just how much of a fight it doesn't have to be. Spending an evening practicing movements connected to the most primal life forces brought me closer to my pony in a way that I never thought was possible. I realized in an instant that it was alright, that his death wasn't my failure, but simply the next phase of a very long friendship. When you love someone or something, you will eventually have to let go...there's no avoiding that one pure truth. For a moment I just became him and as I lay melting into my mat and subsequently the earth below I knew in that moment that letting go would be easy for him, that all beings have their place and time to be in the world, that indeed all things have their season and that the Goddess would always hold him in her arms. My horses have always been my greatest teachers.
I am grateful....grateful indeed.