I carried myself kicking and screaming to yoga yesterday. I’m still a little wobbly after the flu, plus my back has been acting up. My squigglyiotis of the back is now manifesting as a pain in my side. Okay, I made up that name–it sounds better than the real one, spondylolisthesis. All that means is that a couple of my lower vertebrae have taken a hike toward my belly button, so as to speak. And if it weren’t for all the yoga, walking, running and hiking, I’ve been doing for the past twenty-five years or so, I’d probably be in some serious trouble. So I’m not stopping anything, even though some of the moves in my power yoga routine exacerbates the pain. My task is to back off when I need to. Hard for me to do.
Here’s where I practice yoga (other than at home). It’s on the grounds of the swanky Montage Resort in South Laguna, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The hour and a half classes are free, courtesy of Carl, a licensed yoga instructor, who does it for the love of yoga and whatever donations anyone is willing to contribute to his favorite charity, a Himalayan children’s school. And not associated with the Montage in any way.
There’s usually anywhere from a couple to thirty or so practioners lined up on the sidewalk, mats butting up against the lawn, even in snow and rain and storms and blazing sun. (That’s me, the shrimp, second from the left in the photo above.) Okay, no snow, but definitely blazing sun in the summer. That’s when you’ll find me chasing every bit of shade I can find.
This was a hot day, even at 8 in the morning. I found a spot hugging the side of the pergola there to the right in the first photo and focused on letting go of my obsession with perfection. Pain is a great teacher. But I’m a reluctant student. And then came time for the leg lifts, etc. done on our backs. That’s when a flock of pelicans drifted above, riding the currents, feet pulled in like landing gear. They measure fifty inches from bill to toe, and have six-and-a-half-foot wingspans, but these numbers don’t convey the heft of their presence. As I lifted and lowered my legs up and down, I watched as they flapped several times then coasted again. I knew from studying them before that a rhythm reveals itself: effort, glide, effort, glide. I’ll get there.