Breath of Fire

When I entered yoga last week I instinctively moved as far away from the handsome bearded man as possible, finding myself unfortunately positioned in front of the big ass mirrors, facing the rest of the class instead. "Calm down," I reminded myself. "This is for you." And I unrolled my mat, desperate to connect my mind with my body. These days desperate can also mean uncomfortable. 1 or 99 percent, doesn't matter. I am the Princess and the Pea. Small splinters are great arrows.

The focus of the class was breathing which I have noticed in other yoga classes lately I don't know how to do. I often find myself gasping--not because I'm winded but because the air has displaced itself and I have to chase after it, gulp it down before it disappears.

The yoga instructor led us through Breath of Fire, Breath of Joy, deep stomach breaths, nose breaths, breaths where we looked and felt like wild animals caged up in the same room. I was grateful for the opportunity to practice because it all felt pretty important. We moved, too. I stretched and rolled and reached and bent, telling myself I was re-entering my body, that it was a safe and OK place to be.

I only made the mortal error of looking in the big ass mirror once and then gently forced myself to be kind to the girl staring back. Everyone else was just there with me, not worse or better. I was not on display, I was practicing introducing my mind to my body like everyone else. 

The instructor apologized for a short savasana but I think all the breathing brought it home fast. "You were not a mistake," I heard from somewhere deep inside as soon as I closed my eyes. Hot tears spilled over and I could see and feel and hear the little girl whose parents loved her but could not figure out how to love each other. The little girl who carried this feeling without words to frame it: if my mother and father's marriage wasn't meant to be what of anything that came out of it?

I didn't have to force myself to be kind to the girl who asked these questions. My love for her came hot and steady, like breath. 

Valley HaggardComment