"Stand with your hands over your heart and look across the room to one of your friends," said Jane, one of my fellow yoga teacher trainees. She had arranged us, her peers, in a horseshoe shape around the edge of the studio. Typically, we're looking at the back of each other's hairdos; the most intimate moment we're going experience is our head coming a little too close to our neighbor's personal area in a wide-legged forward bend.
I looked across the oak floor and was delighted to meet the eyes of one of my favorite yoga friends. It was so out of the ordinary to experience full-frontal eye contact in class! I held his blue gaze and grinned.
"Keep looking at your friend as you fold forward and bow to them," said Jane.
I looked, and looked, and bowed. I bowed to what I had learned of this person over the past two years of teacher training. I bowed to his light, his heart, his sadness, his beauty.
Jane led us into exalted warrior pose. This involves a deep lunge and a decent backbend, with one hand pointing to the sky and the chest opening in triumph. I love this pose. I'm still not very good at it. I think I must look only somewhat exalted in the pose, like a maybe just an ambivalent warrior who aspires to someday be exalted. But today it was fine that I still can't bend back very far. This wasn't my pose anyway.
"Give this pose to your friend," Jane said. "Shine your heart out across the room."
I pictured my friend's typical exalted warrior: major backbend, heart looking at the sky, nose pointing at the wall behind him. Well, I thought, maybe this will be like a my-heart-to-his-diaphragm energy shine, but here goes. Zap.
The room had gotten very quiet. I heard the breath of the women on either side of me. Jane led us into Warrior II. This is another deep lunge with the arms streaming out in front of and behind your body. I like doing this pose with my front palm up, like I'm offering something out to a little bird that may come land on me. Today I offered my effort to stay in the pose to my friend.
This was great stuff. Not only was there all kinds of good, clean energy zapping all over the room, but I was most definitely not thinking about myself and my little worries. I wasn't even thinking that much about my usual irritations and pleasures in the poses. I was just giving it all up to my compatriot in reverence.
What a new and unusual way to relate to another person! I'm used to other kinds of bowing. I know the worshipping kind, the "I'm not worthy" kind, and the "please love me" kind. Here, there was no psychological drama. Just hi, I'm bowing to you because you're wonderful.
Later, as I stepped in through the side door of my house, the first thing I laid eyes on was my daughter sitting naked on the toilet. Bathroom door open, lights blazing, big grin on her face.
"Hi, Mommy!" she said brightly. "I'm going poo! Can you wipe my butt?"
I stepped into the bathroom and reached for a Wet Wipe.