Dharma: Of Hindu or Buddhist origin, “conformity to one’s duty and nature.”
Durga: Hindu Goddess, celebrated as a remover of suffering
Rescue Dog: Canis lupus familiaris chosen from a humane society, saved from euthanasia
My recent post regarding my break from running led me to consider writing about my path to yoga a little more deeply, a little more creatively. Great thanks goes to Katie O., a fellow Cleveland blogger and a woman that I’m simply proud to know. Katie offered the following suggestion when I jokingly mentioned writing about my rescue dog, Scout, and the parallels to my yoga practice: “You shouldn’t apologize for really writing.” She’s exactly right. This is me, really writing.
This winter has been hard on our family. It’s difficult to write those words, but it’s true. Phil’s work hours were abruptly cut in January, I’ve faced challenges at work that left me drained and the stress (and my stress-eating diet) left me hospitalized with the worst migraines of my life in February. We’ve had car problems, furnace issues, schedule changes, all in a pattern that seemed to indicate that the universe would not relent. We are, nevertheless, incredibly blessed. We have work (Phil has found a great new job), food on our table and healthy and happy children, but stress has been bountiful and relief hard won. On a particularly stressful afternoon, I simply pointed south while we were driving, told Phil we were going to find our dog, and I’m so grateful that we did.
I’ve shared that my heart melts at the sight of a well-photographed rescue dog. I knew my family was ready for another dog this spring, but it was just a matter of finding the right one. We hit the jackpot with Skittles (soon to be renamed Scout) at Geauga County Rescue Village. She’s breathed life in to our home, made us a better dog owner to Reese, another Rescue Village alumni that joined our family in 2009. She’s just the right combination of overgrown puppy and intelligent adult dog. She is a bright part of my day, joyful, playful and protective.
Aside from our new family member, I have found great peace and real connection with my yoga practice this winter. Regardless of the stress I held from my day, the worry I carried about the future, the pain of hurt feelings and disappointment, I have found that yoga brings me back to the moment, healing in its own unique way. And so, though the commitment seemed overwhelming, I made the decision to become an instructor. I hope I can bring to others some of the relief I have found myself. After researching schools in the area, I was thrilled to find Awaken Yoga in Mentor, a mere 10 minute drive from my home. And here’s where my story comes together, during my first class with the instructor that will also be my teacher trainer.
That night, tired, upset, drained, I attended a 7:30pm class taught by Jennifer Langsdale. We began class by dancing (!), bending and lunging and moving our arms to powerful music. I felt out of my element, uncomfortable with stepping on other’s mats, as if everyone could see how ridiculous I felt. But somewhere along the line, I decided to let go, to breathe, to just be there. The studio at Awaken is on the second floor and the sun sets in the back windows, shining light for a brief moment before it gives way, leaving only candles lit in the windows. There, in the dimly lit room, I lost myself in the movement and the breathing until Jen suggested imagining a lion or a tiger, laying down on our mat next to us, supporting us with all of its weight and power. And then, to remember, that that support existed every day, anytime we needed it. She mentioned the goddess Dhurga, depicted as riding a lion or tiger, and the power she held to remove our suffering. My agnostic brain wavered, as it normally does, at any suggestion of gods and their power. Then I laughed out loud-hopefully only to myself. That weight she was talking about, that relief I felt from that weight….that’s what it feels like to sleep next to Scout. Unabashedly, she throws her full 60 pounds at you, sprawls out so she is as long as you are tall, tucks her head in to the crook of my arm and sighs heavily with weariness and (I hope) joy. She’s the tiger.
There are moments in life where you know, in your very cells, that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found these moments to be greater in number and strength. I’ve grown to be more the version of myself that I always hoped to be, and so, perhaps, these moments are only a reflection of that growth. But there, on the mat that night, laughing and crying, I knew I was home. Running, injury, pain, loss – all of it brought me to where I am now. I know there will be more pain in life, more suffering. I know that there are people who are uncomfortable with my choices, who don’t agree or understand. As I sort through those and other challenges, I’m going to continue to rely on my yoga practice and on finding relief with the weight of the tiger.