“In the middle of the night, I go walking in my sleep from the mountains of faith to a river so deep.” ~ River of Dreams, Billy Joel
I’ve had so much energy these days that I don’t know what to do with myself.
And so I’m doing what I know to do when I don’t know what to do. I’m practicing lots of yoga.
Each night I’m on my mat, trying to expend the energy that I’ve captured in my body. It’s not that I’m not happy to have it; it’s just that it needs someplace to go. Who knows how it got there, but I think it happens while I’m sleeping. I seem to wake up with it, sometimes even in the middle of the night!
“I’m here because I need to melt,” I tell the instructor. It’s as good an explanation as any, and I ready myself to practice in 100 degree heat.
I change into my yoga clothes and open the door to the practice room. Rolling out my mat, I look down at my outfit. My top doesn’t really match my bottom, but I don’t care because the fabrics feel good, and I know that makes for a good practice. It also makes for a good memory. I think back to when my son dressed himself for nursery school. He arrived for class one day with stripes going this and that way.
His teacher was gracious. “I see someone dressed himself today!” she had said while nodding her head.
I still don’t know how all this energy found its way inside of me, but I do know that it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I think it’s been building for a while. The instructor puts us in Down Dog, and I am glad for this pose, because it sends my energy in three different directions. We have to press down into our feet and also press down into our hands, and then we have to hike up our hips.
There was a time when I had no energy at all. Back then it was everything I could do in order to do everything I needed to do. It was a time when I lost my spirit, when I couldn’t imagine ever finding it again. This doesn’t make for a good memory, but I still think it’s good to remember. It makes me even more grateful for where I am now and for the abundance of energy that’s been gifted to me.
The instructor takes us through a bunch of Sun A’s and Sun B’s, and I move through them seamlessly. And later I take him up on his offer for deeper expressions, because my energy still needs more places to go. And so I stand on my hands and on my forearms, too, and I also balance in Side Crow.
I say that my energy’s been gifted to me, because it truly feels as if it’s been bestowed. These days I’m especially aware of all the blessings surrounding me, and there seem to be so many! And since I’m someone who processes things visually, what I picture is a river of goodness flowing down through me.
I don’t know how this came to be. It’s not as if it’s been smooth sailing. This year, personally, there’s been such great loss, and our days are still sprinkled with tears. And on a global scale for a long time now, and especially more recently, the world seems sprinkled with fears.
At work, our CEO spoke about the gift of energy and asked us to put ours to good use. The office had just sat down to its early Thanksgiving meal, and he stood up to remind us about how fortunate we are. He spoke about the power of goodness in times that aren’t.
“People can still do good,” he said, “even in a world where bad things happen.”
The instructor asks us to stand on our knees in the middle of our mats. It’s time for Camel, the first pose of the back bending series. I place my hands at my heart and lean back until I’m so far back that I reach up and land them behind me. I rise into a back bend and stay for a count of five.
I used to hate the heart opening poses, but tonight I can’t seem to get enough of them. We move through another Camel, and then through a few Locusts and Bow poses, back bending on our abdomens. After, we jump through our hands for some back bends on our backs, rising up into a few Bridges and several Wheels, too. This is the peak of the practice, and for me it’s always the hardest part.
The heart opening poses take so much work! But it occurs to me that maybe they're the reason so much energy has found its way inside of me. Maybe after so long my heart is finally more open! Maybe that’s why I’m so energized.
This is why I consider energy as a gift bestowed, because suddenly I can see so much of what’s around me. I see blessings and love and even peace. And, who knows, maybe all of that was always there, even when my energy wasn’t. And if that’s the case, then it’s surely cause for faith, which is sometimes an even harder exercise than a heart opener. I certainly would never be one to profess to know the key to an open heart, but I would think that faith has got to have something do with it.
How else is it possible to have hope in the face of loss or even joy in the face of pain? Somehow I’ve had both, which I figure is evidence that our energy is capable of flowing in all directions, whether or not we are suffering. At the very least, it explains how goodness is still possible when bad things happen.
It’s time to go upside down, and I stand on my head in the middle of my mat. I like this part of the practice. I find it relaxing to stand on my head, and I like how it feels to pull up through my core and lift my feet toward the heavens. This upward pull is called celestial energy.
Just this past year, a little girl was born in the wake of our loss. She was named for the young man whom we are mourning. She is called Jordyn, and at her naming her parents spoke of the River Jordan, a river that flows with goodness, just like the one that I picture when I sense a gift has been bestowed.
With open hearts, they explained that they gave this child her name so that the goodness of this young man would flow down through her. And I think their plan is working, for she shares the same engaging energy, and we can’t help but love her. She is the hope that arrived in the face of loss; she is the joy in the face of pain.
And when we hold her we can feel her celestial energy, and this brings a certain peace.
The practice is over, and I lie back on my mat for Savasana, or final resting pose. The heat has done its job. It’s taken an hour and a half, but I am finally melted. For the moment, my energy has settled, and the instructor allows us to stay like that for a while before closing the practice with three Oms.
The room begins to empty out, but I want to go upside down again. I wait until almost everyone has left, and then I press into my hands and lift one leg and then the other. My hips stack over my shoulders, I pull in my core, and I hoist myself to the ceiling.
I catch the balance on the first try, and so I plant myself there in a meeting with the sky. My hands are rooted into the mat, and I straighten my arms and stretch my body higher, and then still higher.
And I’m able to stay like this at length, because the energy is making its way back into me. It flows down through my body like a river of goodness, and I float for as long as I can.