While the Tea Steeps

Early in the morning, while the tea water is coming to a boil, and while it steeps in my thermos, I kick over the stove rugs end to end and roll my yoga mat out on top of them.  Even though I never thought I could stretch so early in the day, I begin with sun salutation, knees bent the first few times leaning over to touch toes, with the voice of my yoga teacher echoing back through time, “Easy, Tiger!”

And it turns out that all the floor work, from the warrior pose series to the hip stretches are exactly what physical therapists say to do for stretching the piriformis, which I need to do to avoid reactivating the plantar nastiness in my feet when I walk. (Yes, foot problems can originate in the hips.)

But there was something about this morning’s unhurried (because it’s Sunday) run through my yoga routine that made me think I want to write about yoga.  I returned to this practice to support my morning meditation, as well as keep my feet healthy, and I’ve been doing it most mornings since the New Year.  Which means that it is getting easier and is more effective.  I can sit comfortably in meditation for 15 minutes on a low pillow, which I could not do at the outset.

But there’s something more.  Yoga has meant a great deal to me.  I am suspecting that some of my aches and pains of aging were coming simply from the fact that my body has long been accustomed to stretching and balancing it with yoga.  Some strengthening, too.  So recent practice has been a bit like taking vitamin supplements I know help.

But there’s something more.  That quiet, deep awareness that happens when I follow my breath and move, bend, or stretch has history.  Muscle memory and recollection of many good times.

I was in my early twenties, just married, when I bought a book in NYC on Hatha Yoga.  I studied it and did the poses on my own, usually early in the morning.  Funny how later I came to believe it was better to do yoga later in the day.  There was an intense yogananda pictured in poses that were beyond me, but I got into doing the ones I could will full intensity.  Besides I was taking ballet and modern dance and the stretching was perfect.  I did not consciously practice meditation then.

I returned to yoga practice in my mid fifties.  It was like coming home in a way, but also brand new.  Edwin’s classes were bilingual.  I loved hearing the Sanskrit names for asanas in Spanish.  Edwin was a gifted, dedicated teacher, too.  He was not doing the yoga thing for making the cover of yoga magazine.  He disliked anything that would reduce rajas yoga from the spiritual significance it held for him.

I had no instruction in the purpose of it and I will admit that sometimes the teaching that Edwin offered for the meditation did not make sense to me.  But I valued the stillness and the calm.  I began to joke back then that I’d gladly pay anyone to make me sit still on a mat.  But yoga was much more. It was a practice.

So, now, years later, having picked it up again, for the purposes of stretching and supporting early a.m. meditation, I am feeling glad.  I realize that on holidays, or days off, I can linger a bit longer and do some other poses not on my weekday workday routine.  I have reconnected with something I value, that I enjoy, and which benefits include bypassing some of those negative thoughts and creaks around the “aging process.”  In fact, I am feeling so much better that I don’t think the concept of aging should figure in quite yet.

Yoga connects me with the part of myself that doesn’t have an age.  Yes, I know the limits my body offers nowadays, but in stretching, being aware, balancing, and then going into meditation I feel like I’m my essential self.  The part of me that really doesn’t change over time.


8 responses to “While the Tea Steeps”

  1. Once you give it a little, teensy bit of time it will give much back to you. 🙂


  2. I would really love to get into yoga. It’s on my list of things I must make time for.


  3. Thank you for your post. I started doing a yoga routine from a DVD a couple of years ago and I feel it’s been life changing. You put some of that feeling into words for me. I also enjoyed a less hurried routine this morning.


  4. Hi Laura,
    Thanks so much for your lovely post on Yoga. I felt as if I joined you in quiet symbiosis. Yoga is so important for my well being.


  5. Eliza Earhart Avatar
    Eliza Earhart

    This is so beautiful. I was introduced to yoga in high school as a way to get my athletic credit without playing a team sport. My practice has ebbed and flowed, and right now it’s flowing again. Thank you for the insight into a piece of your journey.


  6. What a beautiful slice. Because I’ve only been doing yoga for a year, I’m still learning so much and your post just taught me more. I, too, would like to spend a big upcoming birthday doing yoga with a few close friends.


  7. Namaste. Loved your post. I have foot issues (plantar who knows what) and also tight hips. Never thought the two would be connected.
    Many connections were made by reading your post. Namaste.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Yoga connects me with the part of myself that doesn’t have an age.” You just articulated what I’ve been trying to put into words. Thank you! Yoga is simply magical.


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