As I anticipate my next Wednesday online Zoom yoga class tomorrow morning, I think of the various incarnations of yoga (get it?) I have done over the years. Yoga, I have learned, is a blanket term for practices both serene and sweat-free, and super strenuous, to the point of actual pain. The former always make me feel as if I’m cheating a bit. The latter chew me up, so to speak, and spit me out. In these Yoga on Steroids sessions, I “flow” (what a misnomer! Unless “flow” describes the tumultuous cascade of water over Niagara Falls!) from Downward Facing Dog to Warriors 1, 2 and 3 to Tree, Chair, Sphinx, and so on. These kinds of classes inevitably end with me collapsing on the mat, spent and decidedly un-spiritual (though the calorie burn is gratifying).
I took up with, and then dropped, yoga studios to beat the band. The one Evan used to attend, and gave me a gift certificate for lessons at, (my first foray) was pretty brutal (though Ev of course did great in class). Then there was “Twisters,” which sounds benign, right? A jolly crew of older ladies meeting for slow moving calisthenics, then going out for ice cream? But no! “Twisters” apparently referred to its resemblance to a medieval torture rack. Our church yoga group met at night, when I have zero energy or enthusiasm left for exercise of any kind. My summer yoga on the beach was OK, if a bit sandy and buggy, but then they went from a donation-based fee, to $22 per session, a bit much to pay for falling over multiple times per hour.
My current yoga class is taught by my amazing friend Pattie Loughlin. I met her in Rehoboth Beach decades ago. In that season of our lives, Pat was working at Epworth Methodist Church (she would later become a pastor there), and I was best known as half of Steve’s and my two-actor children’s theatre company, in summer residence at Epworth. Pattie now lives and teaches yoga up in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Meanwhile I’ve cycled from actor, to Lutheran spiritual formation director, writer, and (soon) to retiree.
I love my little Zoomer group. This class was a lifeline during the worst of the pandemic, a reminder that we hadn’t lost everything, that there were even silver linings (I’d never be able to study with Pat in person). We begin with a check in time, and then share our prayer requests, before going to our mats, for stretches and poses that are gentle and nourishing for this bod of a certain age. It’s been so nice to know that we are prayer warriors (1,2 and 3:-) for each other, too, as we share what really is a sacred practice, across the miles.
Pat kindly asks me to find and read a poem or other short reflection during the resting “shavasana” at class’s end each week. Here’s a nice one I found recently:
Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is, is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.
Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is, is welcome. --Dorothy Hunt