My Wednesday morning yoga class is a slow-flow. We are mostly elderly, retired with mornings free, and not looking for a power yoga workout. My goal, indeed, is modest. I want to stretch my under-used muscles, move in ways I wouldn’t normally move, and practice my balance.
We meet outside. It’s warm but not yet too hot to be uncomfortable. We face a small lake, an oak wood stands behind us. We smile and nod at each other as we arrive and spread our blankets. I don’t know many of their names, but that’s OK. We’re friendly.
Our instructor is soft spoken. “Lift your arms and bend like a willow in this wonderful breeze,” he tells us, when we are lucky enough to have a breeze. We sway. We are dancers in the breeze. We are willowy. My moves are slow and intentional. I lift a leg. I bend a knee. I twist and look up at the tree above me. Spanish moss hangs from its branches. It, too, moves with the breeze.
Next, I am bending down, slowly, slowly bringing my head toward the ground and staying there long enough to examine the grasses by my blanket. A tiny purple flower, a busy ant. Rising up, lifting my arms, looking up, I see a swallow-tail kite gliding and circling the lake. Others birds call out. Moving into tree pose, I wobble a bit. The black raven in the wood laughs. No matter. A green dragon-fly lands by my foot, then swoops off again. The heron that stands by the lake’s edge lifts its leg slowly, as if mimicking us. He holds his pose longer than I can.
As I lie on my back and watch the clouds moving as slowly as we do, I think I should start everyday like this. But, of course, I don’t. This time is special. It’s a time to move like the clouds, sway like the grass, be still like the heron and be part of all that beauty. I roll up my mat and scoop the ant out of my ear that had been tickling me during savasana and think that for those precious moments, I, too, was beautiful.