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Tuesday and Thursday mornings usually find me at my friend Ana’s house doing yoga. Three years ago when we first moved here, Ana invited me to come with them to a church potluck dinner. I was in shock from the move, scared to even drive to the grocery store, and suffering from the high elevation, dry climate, and heat. I didn’t know anyone. All I wanted to do was hide in bed with a book, but Ana convinced me to follow them out to the campground. She introduced me to everyone there, stayed by me, and made me feel welcome. She asked about me and my family. Then she invited me to come over and do yoga with her. Soon I was walking down to her house twice a week to work out. Besides having someone to exercise with, I discovered a dear friend who takes the time to listen when I’m having a bad day. Ana doesn’t know the meaning of the word impossible. She sets goals and works hard to achieve them. Her love for her family is evident when she takes the time to hug her little son in the middle of a workout or answer another call from her husband. Her family and job keep her very busy, but she still takes time for those who need her. When I get to Ana’s house, we roll out our mats, choose between three or four DVD’s and then attempt to mimic the instructor on the screen as he or she twists and bends into fantastically hard-to-achieve positions. Shiva Rea is my favorite, with a variety of workouts to choose from. Ana is much better at yoga than I am, and I am constantly amazed at her flexibility. Ana is remarkably tolerant of my feeble attempts at yoga, which consist of a lot of groaning and a little stretching as I sweat and try to keep my breathing even. “Breathe through the nose!” Bryan Kest barks. I try not to moan: my nose is usually plugged up from a variety of allergies. My favorite position is the one at the end — Shavasana — when we lie on the floor and relax after a hard workout. At the end of each yoga class the teacher on the DVD brings her hands together in front of her heart, bows her head, and says “Namaste,” which the class is supposed to repeat back. This roughly means “I bow to your true self.” It is a way to honor the deeper, more essential self, less connected to ego, social expectations and pretensions. Ana, I honor you, a person whose life is full of love and giving. Thank you for your friendship. Namaste.

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