Sunday, March 30, 2014

Without Thinking

I can remember being in kindergarten, and when our teacher, Mrs. Lerner, tells us to sit cross-legged, I whip my right ankle on top of my left thigh, and cross my left ankle on top of my right thigh. Mrs. Lerner tells me to uncross my legs and tuck my feet UNDER my legs, not on top. But it doesn't feel right, and a few minutes later, I put them back in the original configuration.

Fast forward to about fourth grade. I remember going grocery shopping with my father to do our weekly stocking-up-on-groceries thing, and while I'm standing at the end of a long conveyor belt bagging groceries, I stand on one leg. Then after I finish that bag of groceries, I switch to the other leg. Back and forth like that, effortlessly balancing on one leg at a time while I stuff cans and boxes into grocery bags.

Last week, I was chatting with Robin in the yoga studio, just sitting around before class began. I was sitting in Lotus, just the same as I've been doing since I was 5 years old. Without thinking about it, I pushed my hands down into the floor and lifted myself off the floor, still with my legs crossed, into scale pose. I swung there for a second before Robin blurted out, "Oh my God! Look at you!"

And I was so startled, I nearly fell down on the floor.

Then she says to me, "Look at your lotus! Look at that! It's perfect! Can you wiggle your feet at the ankles?"

And I could, indeed, wiggle my feet at the ankles.

These postures, these poses - these are things that my body has naturally been able to do as long as I can remember. There's very little effort for me in some of these poses.

But others - ugh. Forward bends? Forget it. I have hamstrings tighter than Aunt Gladys' ass.

But that morning, Robin said to me, "You were an Ashtangi in a past life. You were. You WERE!"

And that made me think - after being able to do some of these things without much thinking - that maybe there's a reason I feel so comfortable on my yoga mat. Maybe there's a reason that I feel like this is what I've been looking for my whole life.

All my life, I've felt drawn to the esoteric. I've felt a pull towards the mysticism of Eastern beliefs and traditions.

My very first real "report" from grammar school was about India, written when I was in the fourth grade. I don't know why I chose India, maybe it was assigned to me. But I remember drawing a map and dutifully writing several pages about India's imports and exports, it's population, it's history and it's emancipation from British colonial rule.

And that was sort of where it began. That was where the conscious and the unconscious met in me.

Since then, I've always identified myself as something of a philosopher. I've always tried to follow my thoughts to the next logical step, pushed myself to go deeper, to dig beneath the surface.

And, of course, I've always loved the rich jewelry and bright colors of the traditional clothing and self-adornments of India.

Who knows? Maybe Robin is right. Maybe I was an Ashtangi in a past life. Maybe I'm here now to try to find something that I missed out on in my last life.

Maybe - just maybe - I'm here to finally find balance.

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