During closing, my hands are at my heart in prayer. The yoga teacher says to move my fingers so that only my thumbs and pinky are touching – the center is to remain open, like a flower. She says the lotus grows in the mud and opens up when the sun shines on it, and closes when it doesn’t. She says, “Remember that when life is murkey, and I’m struggling through the mud, to open up, like the lotus.”
Does anyone know the secret ingredient that goes into making the perfect Smoothie? I can’t figure it out. My blender and I have been bonding lately as I try out different recipes. In addition to ice and some frozen strawberries and blueberries, I try:
Smoothies with frozen banana.
Smoothies with frozen banana and whey protein powder.
Smoothies without either.
Smoothies with honey. Smoothies with Stevia. Smoothies with an egg. Smoothies with soy milk.
No matter what I do, they simply don’t taste as good as the kind I buy. It’s not that they taste bad, but after a few sips I kinda forget about them. When I find the abandoned half-empty glass later on, I feel like I’ve wasted food. One does not forget about a really good Smoothie.
At first I thought maybe it was because when I buy Smoothies they’re probably full of sugar and ice cream or something. But no, I thoroughly enjoyed the Smoothies I drank every afternoon at a yoga retreat in Mexico last February – everything that kitchen prepared was of the healthy, no-sugar variety. I fondly recall sitting under a shade tree at the beach in the afternoons (after a morning of working out) and looking forward to seeing the resort’s chef saunter over with his latest concoction. Wait a sec…the secret ingredient I’m missing? I think it might be the beach. That is, after all, the only place I really ever drink Smoothies. There’s something about the white sand and the turquoise waters and reading a good book that makes a Smoothie taste so perfectly good.
I live far, far away from the beach.
As few weeks ago, we had a substitute teacher in yoga class. He had us do a series of poses where we moved from one warrior position to another to another then back to the first one. And so on.
The Dance of the Warrior, he called it.
The dictionary defines warrior as “one who is engaged in or experienced in battle.”
The battle in yoga, I suppose, is with the anxious, unstable, and not-so-Zen side of myself.
Can I learn to stay centered in the face of fear?
Can I find my balance when life seems to be throwing me in loops?
Can I take action with insight and compassion?
In other words, can I find the way of the peaceful warrior?
As I moved through the series, my muscles trembled, my body wobbled, and my breath labored. At least, part of the time it was like that. At other times, I was calm(er) and stead(ier) and moving in rhythm. Slowly, I’m learning the dance.
On my way to yoga class, I’m not sure which way to go. The road splits, and my instinct says left but Mapquest says right. I ignore my gut and follow the computer’s instructions.
Turing around in the greater Washington DC area is nearly impossible. One road leads to a twisted mass of other roads and within 10 minutes I’ve crossed three borders, hitting Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. There are cars everywhere. Jammed along the freeway. Weaving in front of me as they merge. And my mind races with them.
In my head I’m caught up in the emotional turmoil of living in a new city. I want to move back to our original home in California where I know the streets like the back of my hand and can walk to yoga class. The clock is inching forward. By the time I figure out where I am it’s too late. I’ve missed the class.
I’m waiting at a stop sign when a woman in a minivan bumps the rear of my car.
“Argh!” I yell (okay technically I yell a cuss word, but this is a G-rated blog).
As I pull over into a parking lot my instinct says stop and breathe. This time I listen. Just because I’m not in yoga class doesn’t mean I can’t practice yoga. I have my body, mind, and soul right here in the car with me — I don’t need a mat, a blanket, or the wood floor of a studio.
In inhale deeply and lengthen my spine. I meditate on my breath and seek inner stillness. By the time I step out of the car I feel a hundred times better. The woman in the minivan is apologetic and wants to make sure I’m okay and my car’s okay.
There is only a small scrape on the back bumper.
“Don’t worry about it,” I say. “This car is 10 years old.”
We wave goodbye to each other and drive our separate ways. On the way home I continue to practice my breathing. My blue mat is still rolled up on the passenger’s seat. And the roads are still packed with cars and noisy construction and confusing twisting turns. But inside, I’m slowly finding silence.