When I finished my practice this afternoon, I spent a while crouching with one knee pulled up trying to massage my hamstring while the muscle was warm. I pulled it a bit recently (my tip: go super gently if you’re cold, dehydrated and jet lagged and feeling impatient to get over the tightness of long-haul-hips!), so I’m trying to give it some extra love and encouragement. Without thinking about it I bent forward and kissed myself on the knee. Woah! What gives? I just kissed myself! And so I did it again because it was somehow what I needed…
And right then my phone buzzed. Incoming text from my mum. She’s having a bit of bother at home at the moment, a small tedious difficulty that’s not getting resolved. She said she’d asked herself what I would do in this situation! I don’t know at what point in our lives I became the guiding light rather than the other way round. But kissing my knee had made me think of my mum: her unconditional love, her supportive presence, how when I was small I would be comforted simply by her being near.
Adult life rarely offers such experiences of safety. But I was given one this afternoon. Time for a serious talk with my teacher. Time to lay bare my doubts and fears, my physical and mental blocks. A steady stream of questions piling up on the floor between us. And he listened and then he just blew them away. Not with any dismissive sweep of the hand, not with a deep sigh of impatience, but with a gentle meeting of my fears over and over until the heap of anxieties just whirled gently in on itself and dissipated, like dust blown up on a dry summer field.
Did he answer anything? Not in any straightforward way, no. But that’s OK. I’m slowly, slowly accepting that the yoga learning process is unlike anything else I’ve experienced. I can’t write it down, tabulate it or reduce it to a neat formula. The language of yoga, and of the heart and soul, defies this taxonomy. Languages may conjugate, but the union of yoga doesn’t work like that (get the pun? 🙂 ).
So what did he offer? A reassuring presence and his full attention and a sense that I deserved both, such precious commodities in our busy lives and in a busy yoga studio. His quiet faith and compassion spoke most of the words, reassuring me when I can’t muster such strength for myself, on and on. A simple acknowledgement of what is, helping me see this as a steady base from which I might move on, continuing my work. As an adult, I’m not used to leaning on someone else; I find it uncomfortable. But this was strangely OK. I guess yoga teachers see so much of you during practice that the relationship takes on a weirdly intimate quality. May he and my mum never meet — they know too much! 🙂