our magical bodies

Posted on June 30, 2010

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"body", 2000, oil on canvas

"body", 2000, oil on canvas

As part of my yoga teacher-training program, I get to observe a class.

Last night, the 6pm. About 50 people, in rows of nine across. Kathryn teaching, me sitting on the bench in the back. No taking notes, just observe.

From the beginning, it was amazing to be able to watch a room full of people like that. Unaware of me. But I was in the room with them, feeling the heat, hearing them breathe, get settled. I wasn’t peeking in; I was sitting in plain view, but I was kind of invisible.

Everyone moving into Child’s Pose was like they stepped through a threshold. There was this organization that made itself known in the room, but wasn’t super-specific. Didn’t have edges to it. Everyone breathing, not much audibly, while Kathryn talked them into the space was soothing to me – I wondered what each person was hearing and feeling. They looked like pods. Cute, like pea pods, but definitely not little kids. Which made them that much more interesting. Only kids play as pods.

In Down Dog, as everyone stretched around, it seemed like there was a quiet sea of earnestness filling the space between everyone. And, there was a lot of space. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t feel crowded once on my mat, but seeing it from a little above, was fascinating. How different the space can be! Within the room, there were many many rooms. Not separate though. Everyone had their space in the midst of the shared space. No doors between them. And, yet no one was trying to get into anyone’s space. Maybe they were peering around. I didn’t see that. Their bodies all seemed connected to their mats and holding their experience.

That was the other thing, especially when rounded, closed in some toward themselves, their bodies felt full of history. The day that was ending, weeks, years. Their lives filling their bodies, homes, carried around like turtles, but supple – and endless inside.

I never get to look at people like this. Just look at them. Their whole bodies. See them. Notice their full lives.

When they would be standing, I couldn’t believe we actually stand at all. It looked so amazing to be on our feet. Magical bodies. In all different shapes – mobile. Yeh, they stayed on their mats, but within that space moved in so many ways. It would have been fun to know what each felt like in their bodies. Was this a strain? Were they paying attention? Was it as expected? Who was so-challenged and needed to rest more than to move, but didn’t feel like they really could just melt into Child’s Pose?

Arms sweeping, moving around, bending, looking like elephant trunks, and also our method of  communication, of reaching-outward expression. There was no talking and it didn’t seem like anyone needed to say anything, just to move. To do this thing that wasn’t edge-clear, but there was agreement about it. Kathryn would glide through the room, her voice [bell-clear at the back of the room where I sat] holding the space, telling stories, directing movement that filled the room in waves. Everyone moving at their own pace. Doing whatever part of what she said moved them, made sense to them.

Sometimes I could hear the music; sometimes the sounds of breathing, all kinds of breathing, and sort of one breathing – that was always there, that had no beginning and no end – would reach me and remind me that whatever I was watching was coming from inside everyone. That I could never understand it. It was humbling to be there watching, feeling everyone doing their best. To realize that that really isn’t any different than what we do off the mat, all day long. I so rarely see that. See that in us. See us. Whole bodies, lives. Not just the last action, or word and how it hit me, hit some protruding piece of me.

O, and I never noticed just how much black we wear.

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Posted in: community, yoga