Thursday, April 20, 2017

yoga and the unquiet mind

the sound of mats and heavy cream-colored yoga blankets being spread out. yawns and deep breaths as everyone settles in, trying to let go of a busy day and be there, on the mat, in the cool, dimly-lit room. the woman next to me massages her ovaries with abandon. on the other side, someone places a purple block under her lower back and stretches out, sighing deeply. i try to do the same (minus the ovary massage part). try to land there, in the room, in the cool, in the hush, to quiet my mind and leave my day behind. a siren blares outside. i wiggle around on my mat, trying to block it out. the instructor comes in. he's my favorite for now, while my other favorite is on maternity leave. i wonder briefly if that's ok, to have a favorite in her absence. i decide it is and try to clear my mind again. it flits gaily off to my undone to-do list. then to an afternoon conversation, then back to the list. i pull it back to the room, picturing in my mind my straining arm muscles, physically trying to pull my mind back to be here. present. in this room. right now. it sticks out its tongue and flounces off, cursing the travel agency, skating over an unfinished risk assessment, pausing over powerpoint and that two hours i'll never have back.

we start with that half moon pose, lying on our backs, legs curved to the right, left one crossed over right, arms stretched out to the right. i love this pose, except when i get a muscle cramp in my back, just beneath my shoulder blade. it loosens and i realize that i've just counted to 89 without even realizing it. stupid, restless mind. i mentally strain the muscles in my arms again, dragging it back to the room, to my purple mat. telling it to stay. it does, for about two seconds, like a disobedient dog. i'm not a dog person.

i think about the dentist appointment i made, the trips ahead, my undone to-do list, that obsession we have with cake at work, how that woman beside me massaged her ovaries, what's for dinner, yesterday's productive late meeting, how awesome it is to work with creative people. so many thoughts, so loud, so active. SO not present here, in this room, in these long stretches, that my muscles are longing for, but which my restless mind is clearly rejecting.

we do that position where you sit on your knees, feet out to the sides of your posterior and lie back over a yoga bolster. i always put a block under the end of my bolster, so it's at an angle, as my neck doesn't like leaning back. it's one of my favorite positions. mostly because i can do it easily and many others cannot. it makes me feel better about how i can't bend forward and touch my knees with my nose in those folded forward positions that seem so easy for everyone else. i wonder why it's easy for me and i enjoy the stretch on the front of my thighs. it's here i can still feel the remnants of how the nerves in my left leg were affected by my back problems of a year and a half ago, but i find it interesting and not painful. it feels like i'm helping the nerves heal. and for a few minutes, i'm there, in my body. my mind stops flitting around.

but then we lie back on the mat, to feel the buzz of the intense position. and my mind runs away again. back to the list, and the alzheimer's and the travel plans and the dentist and dinner. and as i once again reach 89 in the endless unconscious count, i remember that i'm practicing.

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