Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Forces of Nature, Part II

The kind of yoga I practice is Anusara yoga, which was founded by a delightful goofball named John Friend. Whenever John Friend comes to town, all of my yoga friends go to his workshops. It's a no-brainer. For us, he's like the Pope.

This year I scraped together the time and the courage to go. Nevermind that the first workshop started at 8 a.m. the morning after I'd just gotten back from Mexico at midnight. I knew I'd get there and ride the collective shakti until I woke up enough to ride my own. And then, maybe I'd explode with happiness.

Two hundred men and women lined up their mats edge to edge in the great hall of the Nordic Heritage Museum. A full band played groovy Indian music on a stage. John, in shorts and sleeveless shirt, walked around, snapping his fingers to the drum, and saying things like, "Feels good!"

All of my people were there. Blue-haired Rebecca, bald Davida, Adonis-like Robin, the lady I teach up in Edmonds every Thursday, Jodi, Kit, Anne, Megan, Dan, Will, Richard...and my beloved teachers, too. They walked around like goddesses, helping us perfect our poses. I saw demonstrations by a man named Adam, whose thighs were as big as my head and who could lift one leg nearly vertical while balancing on the other foot. (Between you and me, he looked like the happiest, most glowing, healthy person on the planet.) And then there were the musicians, who, when not playing an instrument, simply stood up on the stage and did their yoga, too.

YES. These are my people, I thought. This is power and grace. This force I'm feeling is all strength and beauty! How shall I be a part of it?

I raced home to bring food to my family. We'd been out of town for a week; the cupboards were bare. Then, after wolfing a bagel sandwich and chilling with the kids, I raced back to Ballard for another two-hours of intensity.

That night, I nearly fell asleep while eating my dinner. I was so worn out, so physically tired and sore, I couldn't think. I could barely talk. I passed out in bed without the chance to process the day. Surely, there would be time for that tomorrow.


Gracias, Isla Mujeres. Te amo.

Forces of Nature, Part I

There is nothing that keeps a Northwesterner going in the early months of the calendar year like the promise of getting the hell out. Matt and I have made it a habit for the last three years to vacate the mud and moss of Seattle for at least one week during the crucial dark and rainy months of Seasonal Affective Disorder. We went to Mexico, Hawaii, and now Mexico again, this time the Caribbean side. It’s a long trip from here to there, and we had a dicey itinerary with nary a moment to lose between connecting flights in Salt Lake City.

We got the kids up at 4 am and made it on to our 6 am flight with no trouble.

And then we sat.

There was a problem with the hydraulic fluid. Seems it was leaking. No one knew why. Oh, whoops, the hydraulic line was broken. This would be simple to fix, as soon as a new one could be located and…oh, yes, the nearest replacement part was in LA. Everything would be ship-shape in a mere three hours.

Matt and I, in separate areas of the plane, texted each other on our phones. “Fuch,” he mistyped.

“Do you mean Holy Mother of Shit This Really Sucks?” I typed back.


We deplaned. After Matt engaged in extensive conversations with Delta Airlines on his iPhone, it was determined that there were no seats left on any flights that day to Cancun from the western United States. Our best bet was to get on this flight to Salt Lake, whenever it left, and fly to Cancun the following day. But hey! We would get to spend a night in exotic downtown Salt Lake City, Utah!

While all of this business was transpiring, I led the kids though several rounds of goofy sun salutations in the waiting area. It didn’t occur to me to be self-conscious. The more steeped in the yoga world I get, the more I forget that not everyone else is. In any case, the people around us were sunk in their own private dramas, complaining to relatives and Delta Airlines on their cell phones. I even let the kids crawl on me and under me while I did dog pose, just because we were on vacation and having to wait four hours for the next flight.

We lived in the moment, moment to moment, all of that day, never knowing what would happen next, and never expecting what we hoped for to happen. It was a good strategy, especially with the children. We got on that plane, successfully made it to Salt Lake City, rode a shuttle to the crappy hotel the airline paid for, and then promptly enjoyed the indoor heated pool. The pool saved the day for the kids.

While we walked back from the brew pub where we had dinner, the temperature dropped deeply. Both kids had melt downs. And the next morning brought a foot of new snow. Guess what that meant? Oh, a two-hour delay while we waited to get de-iced. At that point, we had been travelling for 28 hours and there was not yet any white sand between our toes. There was just a lot of white snow blowing around the runway. I felt we had been there, waiting, forever, and that we might always be there, dreaming of Mexico.