My mum and I are in the habit now of exchanging photos from our respective self-isolations. We share some details of what we’ve seen on our daily walks, our one form of outdoor entertainment. Today she sent me pictures of some sawn tree trunks. She had found them beautiful. She commented on the shapes and the texture. As I read her email I imagined her running her hands over the roughness of the cut wood before she took the photo for me. She might not have noticed these details previously, or would have found the noticing too trivial to mention, much less catalogue with a photo to share with me. There is something in the quietness and simplicity of life in lockdown that encourages a fresh perspective, an attention to detail that arises naturally as life reduces in scope.

My mum’s sawn logs, with the beautiful pattern of growth rings revealed beneath the outer bark

I love these photos, seeing a snapshot (literally) of how my mum perceives the world. There’s something in the sharing of inconsequential details that really touches me. It also keeps my eyes always open to see. In the past I felt that I was blind to so much of my experience. I remember remarking to my teacher early on that yoga practice had brought colour to my world when previously it had seemed black and white (or perhaps grey is more accurate, given my state of mind).

The way that yoga practice continues to change my perception and opens my eyes to new possibilities entrances me. It gives me hope for future brightness in times when my experience seems dark or heavy, when the grey skies threaten.

Grey skies on my walk today — this is the photo I shared back with my mum

I was trying to describe to my teacher recently how much my experience of Surya Namaskar has changed, since I have been trying to be more disciplined in including these formal sequences in my daily practice. This noticing of the quality and details of my practice is something that easily slips through the fingers of my consciousness. Like my mum sending me photos of the details she notices on her walks, sharing my experience with my teacher slows my mind down and allows me to notice the growth rings and the texture of my practice:

And beginning to feel how vinyasa style works — that the set up, the moving in and out of poses is the thread that carries the awareness along with it. So the movement is dharana… something like that? I might have understood intellectually, but not feeling it because I’m always fidgeting/doubting in mind or body or both…. Now the experience of SNa is so different to how it used to be and makes me wonder about the possibilities. My practice is nowhere near ‘my body is my temple, asanas are my prayers’ but there’s sometimes a quiet joy in this sequence (even in Tadasana!) where once it was always vertiginous and disorientating.

After reflecting on how much change I see when I take the trouble to notice, I concluded to my patient teacher: “I have to let go of the old idea that I will remain stuck and not change.”

So today’s analogy has to end. My yoga practice is not a pile of dead logs. It’s more like a young sapling, still putting out roots for stability and nourishment, pushing upward, seeking the light.

Of course I’m babycrow, growing up and finding wings to fly!

8 thoughts on “Texture

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  1. Uncanny! Just this morning, I read a few lines from Herman Hesse and noted it down since it resonated so much. Slightly long but sharing it here. The picture you shared reminded me of it. “When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.”

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