Friday, July 22, 2016

Heart Openers

One of {many} things I love about 
yoga is how much it teaches me 
beyond my mat.

Recently, the studio where I 
practice held a benefit class,
with donations going to a local
family who'd lost their little boy
in a swimming pool accident a
week earlier. 

The loss of this sweet boy was on
my mind as I walked into the quiet
studio and rolled out my mat. A
young mom came in with her little
girl and after they set up their
own mats in the front row, the
tiny child casually shrugged on a
set of fairy wings and sat down,
ready for class to begin.

We physically carry grief by
drawing inward ~ shoulders rolled
forward, head down, our teacher
shared as she opened the class.

Today, we'll concentrate on
heart openers: a series of poses
to counter this tendency and bring
both physical and emotional release.

The little boy's name we were 
honoring was Daniel, and she asked
us to visualize his favorite 
color ~ green ~ surrounding his
family with love as we slowly
breathed in and out, our arms 
outstretched by our sides.

{Many of the businesses in town
had draped their windows in green
or were sporting green balloons
in front of their store fronts
in homage to Daniel.}

The week before this class, I'd
attended a memorial out of town
for a dear friend's 16 year old
son, who'd died suddenly at camp.

Both the visitation and the
memorial were surreal. 

Use your breath, I heard my yoga
teacher's voice say inside my
head, as I waited in the very long
line to embrace my friend, tears
stinging my eyes.

Deep inhale.  Deep exhale.

Michael was beloved and full of
light; an aspiring sports writer
who'd been writing his own blog
for three years.  He rooted for
several favorite teams around the
country, and was especially fond
of the Chicago Cubs.

His memorial ended with those of us
in attendance singing a song 
about the Cubs that Michael and
two buddies had submitted for a
Chicago radio competition.

Back home the next morning at yoga,
the instructor ended class with
these words:

It takes four muscles to smile,
but 72 to frown.  

You choose.

I immediately thought of another
close pal, who also lost her son,
a college freshman, two years
ago.  He was known for his kind
heart and his megawatt smile.

And so, I smiled for Jake.

And as I walk and admire the
brilliant greens of summer, I
think of Daniel.

And yesterday, as I prepared
dinner, I switched on the little
TV in my kitchen to a Cubs game,
remembering Michael.

Heart openers, too, in their
own special way.

Life's losses can turn our hearts,
minds and bodies inward, if we don't
consciously choose to throw
back our shoulders and search for
that which is still good and kind
and lovely around us.

So, let's strap on our fairy wings
and embrace the wonder that
is living, for ourselves as well
as for those who we love, no
longer here with us.

Feel the wind caressing our
faces and the green leaves that
dance in the trees around us.

Dispense smiles.

Cheer loudly whether our team
is winning or losing.

Stay open to life.


(all pics my own)