If there is one downside to all the travel during my past year, it is the frequent interruption to my daily yoga practice. Though I may stretch and strike some poses in Haiti or Kalamazoo, the full Bikram experience requires an instructor’s guidance in the hot room. I still practice every day when in Cambridge; a year ago that meant 25 or more classes in a month, but lately I have months with fewer than ten sessions. I am faithful when in town, I am still limber and manage my poses; occasional yoga is better than none. But without sustained practice, the meditative depth slips away.
This month I am blessed with three weeks at home, as I insist on celebrating Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, among friends and family. Between doing prodigious yard work and preparing for the feast, I enjoy a sustained string of yoga classes. With each class my poses settle deeper. For the first time recently I actually touched my head and knee in Standing Head to Knee Pose and my elbows scraped the carpet in the Head to Knee Stretching.
But it is not the increased flexibility that I relish so much as the physical / mental balance that accompanies consistent practice. That moment in Toe Stand, when my weight is balanced on the ball of one foot, the ankle of my suspended leg rests on my knee, my eyes focus on the floor four feet in front of me, and I raise my arms to prayer. It is not simply a physical contortion; it is a moment when my sweaty, loose body merges with my consciousness. I float; a moment of perfect balance between the force of gravity and my ascending spirit. I am simultaneously weightless and mindful and centered. It is a deep yoga that I cannot attain through occasional practice. It is why I savor the privilege to practice every day