As soon as I step into the room, I sigh. Calm. Safe. Sangha. The scratchy, thick wool blanket. A tacky, sticky yoga mat. The warm embrace of others as we greet one another. Some pause as they hug. Sigh. Honor one another. Grateful to see one another. I sit on my blanket, fold my legs in front of me, and settle in for an afternoon of learning, sharing, listening. As we start our time with chanting, I feel the sound of all our voices vibrate inside me. As we begin to discuss, just discuss, inversions, my energy, the group's energy, increases. As the afternoon ends, again we embrace one another. Validation and support in the form of a hug. The knowledge that we will do this again the next day. Two days of community, learning, sharing.
Happy voices of the group greeting one another. For many it has been a month since we have seen one another. To being the afternoon, we chant to Ganesh and honor our teachers and teachers' teachers. People begin to check-in. I hear their truth. They share with such honesty and integrity in their voices. Tears. Laughter. Tears again. Validation. Affirmation. The calm, wise voice of our teacher. Her infectious laughter. She shares her knowledge without attachment, inviting questions, conversation. We study inversions. Changing your perspective by literally turning yourself upside down. An excited voice says something like, "did anyone else just love headstands as a kid? I would watch tv standing on my head." Laughter. No one quite agreed but we could all relate to the child-like joy. Throughout the afternoon, moments of quiet counterpose the energy, laughter, voices.
Fresh air drifts in through the open windows. It is warm enough (read: no rain, wind, or gray sky) to have the windows open. Yes. Yes. Yes. Someone brought foil-wrapped hearts. As I bring one to my lips, the intoxicating smell of my vice, chocolate. Can I let one be enough? No. Throughout the afternoon I eat three. Later, the spicy, warm, stomach-grumbling inducing smells wafting from the kitchen of a Thai restaurant.
The salad, my new favorite meal, that I brought for lunch. I taste dried cranberries, blue cheese, apple, lettuce, walnuts. I am eating a salad and loving it, I think to myself with a little happiness and pride. Later, the hot, rich, bitter flavor of a vanilla latte. Even later, peanut sauce, curry, rice, noodles, vegetables shared with four friends. The spices cha-cha on my tongue in the midst of conversation and laughter. The welcome clear, cleansing taste of water when the curry is a bit more than my tastebuds can handle.
On days like this, I usually focus on faces. Smile, sadness, serious eyes, frown of confusion, nodding affirmation, a wink as a joke is shared, quizzically raised eyebrows, laughter and wrinkles around the eyes. And when we study asana, I then focus on bodies. On this day, bodies in shoulder stand, head stand, supported head stand. Although I am not yet brave enough to experience these poses, I enjoy the change in perspective these poses invite in others. A new look at the world. Upside down.
You can find a community of people, a sangha, and know that you are not alone in your journey. Take a breath and open your heart to the possibility.