Practicing through the passage of time

pond campfireWhen I was young, my birthday parties were amazing. Blessed with a lake in my front yard, scores of summer playmates spilling out from the neighboring cottages, and our collective mothers creating a carnival theme with games and contests to rival any elementary school fair, my birthday expanded into a veritable neighborhood festival. My siblings, who all had the misfortune of birthdays that fell in snowstorm-prone months, bundled their cancelled parties into mine to form a communal celebration with our five sets of friends. This diffused spotlight, perfect for a shy girl, made for the ideal way to mark the passing years: a party with no pressure. The brief moment of blowing out the birthday candles on my towering confection of cake was the only time I had to be in the limelight. I could swim or sail or swing or see-saw, even curl up with a newly unwrapped book in my favorite clearing under the mountain laurel without worrying if my guests were entertained. I could carve out my own silent world amid the cacophony.

For decades as an adult, my favorite way to note the occasion has been a day filled with writing and reading in the hammock or drifting in the rowboat, followed by a low-key campfire. For me it’s perfection: the treat of sticky s’mores accompanied by a chorus of crickets and bullfrogs and the irregular pulse of fireflies mingling with the occasional sparks wafting into the star-strewn sky. It’s in the quiet I find the most space to celebrate and notice. It’s an opportunity to take stock and make my own new year resolutions.

Until last year, when work demands kept me in the city instead of vacationing in the mountains my birthday week. That’s when I discovered a new tradition, in the yoga studio. I committed to attending every scheduled class on that day, five in all. Surprisingly, it too turned out to be a perfect place to celebrate and relish the turning wheel of time. In the vibrancy of powerful classes, there is room to be silent, to take stock, to stand in wonder. It’s on my mat that I can be in complete observation. Moving through the sequence of asanas, connecting body to breath, there’s nowhere for me to hide from myself. And it is so clear in this space: each incremental change I have made, each baby step of progress into exploring what’s possible.

Summer playmates may have been replaced by studio friends. S’mores may be supplanted by some more attempts at inversions. But surprisingly, savasana with closed eyes can conjure the feeling of resting on the moss at the water’s edge. And the opportunity to breathe into every moment in full awareness becomes more precious as the years pass.

 

Want to join me for an intentional full day of practice? I’ll be at Evolution Power Yoga on Wednesday, all day, for all six classes. Or instead, you can experience how that birthday examination invigorates my own teaching on Thursday at 5:30 p.m at Evolution, on Friday at 8:30 a.m. at LA Fitness, on Friday at 10:15 a.m. at Core Wellness Yoga, or on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Core Wellness.

 

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