The task for this piece was to incorporate a sign into it.
I was scribbling this out in a café at lunchtime, thinking about all the signs (mostly in Catalan) I saw while walking there from home. Which one to choose? When the waiter brought my meal, I looked up and saw this:
In this house
- We do real
- We do mistakes
- We do I’m sorry
- We do fun
- We do hugs
- We do second chances
- We do happy
- We do forgiveness
- We do really loud
After I left, I realized I forgot that I meant to take a photo of it. Oh well.
You’re back on the mat, centered and ready to begin. Feet firmly planted, the outsides parallel and calloused big toes touching.
Looking down to double check, you resist the urge to pack it all in and head straight for a pedicure.
You bring your hands to prayer position in front of your chest. You breathe in and raise your arms above your head. Not just raise. Reach. Upward Salute. Urdhva Hastasana.
The first real movement of Sun Salute A.
You create a gentle tension in your body. Feet still pushing him to the floor, grounding yourself. Your hands are together above your head, reaching towards the ceiling, towards the sun.
It’s a formalized version of one of the most basic stretches you do almost every day if not every hour. Grabbing something off the top shelf. Having a big, indulgent yawn. Holding an overhead rail on a jostling bus or subway train. Helping someone shove that just too big to fit on into the overhead (why do people lose any sense of spatial awareness when flying?). Hailing a taxicab. Swatting at that itsy bitsy spider at the top of the wall who isn’t doing any harm to anyone, but needs to go nonetheless. Getting rid of that cobweb in the corner (not right now but definitely before company comes). Writing slang they don’t teach in textbooks at the top of the blackboard.
In the here and now, it’s a controlled, precise movement. You look up and back towards your hands, palms pressed together. You feel your breath sink down deep past your diaphragm. Your core is taut. You feel a stretch in your chest and your heart opens just a little bit more. Your shoulders sink down and back. Your legs are solid, supporting the pose.
In the Ashtanga studio, the shala, you would be like this for only one inhalation. But you’re at home and, as they say all too often here, no hay prisa, tranquilo.
So you take the time to breathe into the pose. You feel a little tight in your right shoulder, so you lean into that and stretch a little from side to side. In this house we do real.
You close your eyes and lean a little bit further back, wondering what it will be like to return to back bends. You lose your balance a little but quickly recover. In this house we do mistakes.
You move your hips around a little in a circular movement. It’s not part of the practice, but you’ve been doing this a lot before and after runs, and it feels quite nice. In this house we do fun.
You think about how many times you’ve rushed through this in the past, and how much you’re enjoying getting back into it as slowly as is necessary. You feel that you’re growing taller with every breath. In this house we do second chances.
You feel like you’re starting to wake up, and smile at the thought of returning to your practice. In this house we do happy.
You think about how long you’ve been out of commission. Of the many reasons that might have caused that, and truly don’t really matter anymore. Of all the projects started, of all the races not run, of all the round-tuits you never got. You tell yourself it’s all okay. In this house we do forgiveness.
You take one more deep breath, reach a little higher, and let out that breath with the loudest “ahhhhh” that you can manage. One of the cats jumps off the window sill where she’d been sleeping. In this house we do really loud.
You know you’re ready to dive into the next movement, but for now we focus on this. And you know, that in the entire practice, you will have plenty of time to wrap yourself around yourself. In this house we do hugs.