I've been practicing yoga for going on seven years now. Approximately once a week, I spend an hour in a room with a dozen other people, saluting the sun, breathing deeply, and contorting my body into poses that both energize and relax me, all at the same time.
There are three main aspects to yoga, as far as I can tell: flexibility, strength, and balance. Flexibility is not my thing. When we're supposed to be stretching our hips, for example, I can't even get to them because my hamstrings hurt too much. One shoulder is so tight I can hardly reach my arm overhead somedays. When we do a "forward fold," I'm lucky if it simulates a forward tilt. As for strength, I'm okay. I can usually stay in Goddess pose or Warrior One or a High Runner's Lunge (American terms, fyi) for as long as needed. But balance? Balance is my forte. Put me in Tree Pose (one leg hitched upon the other, arms overhead, swaying like a tree in the wind), and I can stand there forever.
As it turns out, what holds true for my body in a yoga class holds true for my whole life. Adequate strength. Impressive balance. Not so flexible.
Let's use today as an example. A snowstorm. Which means a snowday for Penny. Which means two hours that I expected to work (while William napped), gone. Another snowday tomorrow, and a snowed in babysitter. Which means another however many hours of work, gone. I have been cursing the snow. It disrupts the balance of my life.
We live on the campus of a boarding school, and the view out our window contends for the award for "most idyllic snow scene in America." Tonight, I was walking back from yoga class. And I stopped walking. Just stood there. First I noticed the silence. No trucks passing by. No rush hour traffic. Then the softness. The contours of the snow. The way it traced the lines of every branch of every tree, bending without breaking. And then two boys, students who live in the dorm with us, concentrating hard on constructing an igloo. These boys are pushed hard every day–classes, sports, activities, homework. They have a constant fear that they won't measure up, won't get into the right school, won't "make it" in life. But tonight, they were playing in the snow.
Silence. Beauty. Delight.
Maybe we'll take our kids sledding tomorrow. Maybe I'll try snowshoes for the first time. Maybe yoga is making me a little more flexible after all.