Was in the weight-room the other day, enjoying my usual combination of strength training and yoga asana: toggling back and forth between sets with dumbbells or on a Universal circuit-training machine – and poses designed to lengthen the same muscle groups.
Afterwards, I moved into the hallway immediately outside the weight-room, sat down near the wall, then swung my legs up into Viparita Karani. I love this position as a way to end a workout: to relax my body and mind completely, dropping all technique, allowing the effects of the recent explorations to integrate deeply, within and as and indistinguishable from the “space” of awareness.
Enjoying The View
I also enjoy this place in the hallway, which has a sweet view of sky and mountains out the front window, and always feels quiet, even when there are people walking by.
Not infrequently, a small child will see me lying there with my legs up the wall, and pose the question — to their mother or father — “What’s she doing?” And what I’ve noticed, to date, is that the most common response to this inquiry tends to be “She’s stretching” –- though others include “She’s doing yoga” or “She’s exercising” or “She’s resting.”
But on this particular day, as I was lying there, then heard footsteps approaching, the voice of the young child didn’t ask “What is she doing?” –- but instead simply declared: “That is so beautiful!”
Receiving The Gift
These words were uttered with such angelic sweetness – such refreshing innocence – that they drew from me not only a smile, but also feelings of deep gratitude … as though I had just been offered a most sublime and precious gift, something truly priceless.
The young girl’s mother responded (as the two continued their passage down the hallway) by saying something to the effect of how she would teach the young girl how to do the same thing, once they got home. Now mind you: I never saw either of them – just was able to listen in on this conversation, as I remained there in Viparita Karani.
Only later did I wonder what exactly it was that the young girl was seeing, that inspired her to proclaim – with all that childlike wonder – “That is so beautiful!” Was it the rather unique positioning of my muscles and bones, with legs inverted and arms and hands extended symmetrically on the floor? Was it the clothing I happened to be wearing that day, which included my favorite purple Nike sweatshirt? Was it the sense of spacious quietude that, in that moment, I was inhabiting?
Now of course I’ll never know, for certain – and it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that those words – so impersonal yet at the same time so sweetly intimate – felt like the perfect gift from the Universe, exactly what Elizabeth’s body-mind needed right then and there, to align once again with natural ease and clarity, peace and joy, with a child-like awe and freedom.