Today is Day Two of Momalom’s 5 for 5 blog-meme, and I’m already wondering what I got myself into. But that’s okay. I saw this as a good opportunity to get my writing groove on and re-connect with my community. And after this, I’ll only have three to go. Surely I can do three more. No one says these blog posts have to win a Pulitzer, right? (Come to think of it, no one’s getting a Pulitzer these days, so I really shouldn’t worry.)
(Deal with it.)
Back in December, I went to a morning yoga class at a small studio near my house. Small is an understatement. It was me, another woman, and the instructor, Sharlene. Toward the end of our practice, Sharlene told us we should challenge ourselves by trying to do a backbend.
Backbends can be pretty scary. You start on your back, put your arms over your head and bend them so that your palms are touching the floor, and lift yourself until your head is suspended. You have to use your arm muscles, and your leg muscles, too, and probably, mostly, your core. Or maybe it’s all just a matter of will. Regardless, I did backbends all the time as a kid (and headstands, and cartwheels, and one-handed cartwheels), but my body is not so lithe anymore. I’m out of practice. My vertebrae don’t always like me.
In yoga, you’re supposed to maintain a fine balance between reaching your edge and listening to your body, and whenever this pose comes up, I listen to my body—whose every nerve is screaming “No!”—and decline the invitation. When I hear the word backbend, I imagine my neck cracking against the hard yoga-room floor.
But the instructor and the other class member did it, and since I was the only one left, I had to at least try. I failed, of course, unable to lift my heavy head. Then Sharlene came over and helped me by standing at my splayed ponytail and telling me to grip her ankles. (I know this sounds like Kama Sutra, but it wasn’t.) For some reason, I was able to lift into the air while holding on to Sharlene’s ankles, but not by myself. A minute later, when I was safely flat on the floor, Sharlene lay down in the middle of us students and started talking about words, about how she starts the new year with a word to focus on. Hers was forgiveness. She had trouble forgiving, apparently. (My mind wandered in uncomfortable directions. Had I paid for my class card?)
I knew what my word was without having to think about it. I said, “My word is surrender.”
Sharlene looked over. She told me I should think about the word and then try the backbend again.
And if I didn’t go into that backbend gracefully, as though I’d been doing it every day for years.