Repeating Numbers

Repeating Numbers

“A B C. It’s easy as 1 2 3, as simple as do re mi, A B C, 1 2 3 … “ ~ ABC, Jackson Five

I was at yoga the other night for an eight o’clock class, and, for the first time in years, the instructor was running late. But that was okay with us, as we ourselves had lost track of time. We were all happily seated in the practice room, visiting each other’s mats, chatting and catching up from the week.

The door finally opened. It was the instructor. 

“I’m so sorry I’m late,” she said. “It’s already 8:08!”

808 is a significant number for me. When I was a little girl, my parents encouraged my siblings and I to learn our home address by heart. That way, if we were ever to get lost, we would be able to tell someone where we lived. Our street number was 808, an easy enough number to remember. I remember practicing my address earnestly, reciting it over and over, like the words of a favorite song. As a result, the lyrics embedded themselves so deeply in my consciousness that, to this day, 808 is a number that’s as fresh in my mind as it was when I was a child.     

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Prayer

Prayer

“I pray you’ll be our eyes and watch us where we go and help us to be wise in times when we don’t know.” ~ The Prayer, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli

It’s Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish New Year. It’s the Day of Atonement, the day when we fast and ask G-d for his forgiveness for any and all of our sins. All day we pray to be entered into the Book of Life, and when the sun sets, the gate on this opportunity closes until this same time next year, when we get to pray for forgiveness again.

This year, the High Holiday has fallen on a Saturday. I wake up and brew some coffee and then mix up a green shake. I tend to faint when I fast, and so it’s been a while since I have. And with my children all grown up, I no longer belong to a synagogue. And so these days I opt to spend the high holidays at hot yoga, where I’m always able to find something spiritual in the sweat. Today I shower and sign up for class and leave the house with my hair still wet.

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Compassion

Compassion

“Well this good I’ve found, I spent all this time tryna find my way here.” ~ This Feeling, Alabama Shakes

It’s almost dark, and I’m looking at the world from upside down.

I am dripping in a backbend in a room that’s heated to almost 100 degrees. Upside down in my arc, I look out the back windows and see people gliding by, taking footsteps on the sky. A little girl stops to wave. She wants to say hi.

This is the peak of the practice. We’ve finished all of the standing poses, and we’ve warmed up our backs on the mats. We’ve rounded our spines in Camel and Locust and Bow, and we’ve already done our first Bridge. And now the count is on for Wheel.

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Agony

Agony

This is agony, but it’s still a thrill for me. ~ Agony, Paloma Faith

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

These are the words of the great poet and storyteller, Maya Angelou. I’m guessing she knew a thing or two about agony, because she spent her lifetime writing her stories.

By comparison, I’ve only spent about a moment of mine. And that’s because, before yoga, I didn’t even know I had any stories inside of me, much less any kind of agony.

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Shapes

Shapes

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, well it’s a hard, and it’s a hard. It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. ~ A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Leon Russell

I love the rain. I love any kind of rain.

In fact, the other day after practice, the skies opened up in what I can only describe as a deluge. All the yogis hovered inside the door, waiting for the rain to let up. I wished everybody a good night and flowed right through them like a river into the ocean, eagerly heading out.

I was drenched by the time I reached my car and had to wrap myself in yoga towels for the ride home!

So when I saw that a fellow blogger had written a post titled, The Rain, I clicked on it in the same eager way as I had stepped out into that storm. I was anxious to see what she had to say about the rain.

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Bare Feet

Bare Feet

I’m trying to remember why I was afraid to be myself and let the covers fall away. ~ Naked, Avril Lavigne

I climb three flights of stairs to get to my yoga class.

And when I reach the top I am greeted by dozens of shoes. It’s warm outside and the landing is a maze of flip flops and sandals.

I stop and stare at the shoes. For some reason I am so happy to see them, as if I’ve been greeted by the people they fit! I don’t know why I feel this way. They belong to those in the class before mine, and I don’t even know whose they are! But here are their shoes, their spirits still in them, standing to greet me.

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Fierce

Fierce

What’s in a name? That which we call a  rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ~Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare

I met a man named Adeoye.

I’d met him before. He works in a store I frequent when I arrive at yoga too early and need a place to go before class.

I didn’t know his name then. He is a beautiful man, with a beautiful voice and smile to match, who serves as the greeter for the store.

And he does a good job greeting. I even remember what he said the first time he greeted me. He paid me a compliment. He told me I looked fierce.

I smiled back and thanked him. It was early on a weekend morning, and I was feeling far from fierce. I was dressed in a hodgepodge outfit with my hair half done. I had blown out my bangs but left the rest to dry in every direction. Wearing barely any makeup, I had on my yoga gear and what I call my supersonic socks, the rugby socks my son had bought while backpacking abroad. Emblazoned with the words,

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UNFOLD YOUR MAT, UNFOLD YOURSELF

UNFOLD YOUR MAT, UNFOLD YOURSELF

It's said that yoga can open up a person. It did that for me, and out came 270 pages! My book is up on Amazon (available here)! It's a collection of my essays, edited into sections of 15 Healing Truths. I am very grateful to my teachers and my fellow yogis and my readers for helping to make this happen. 

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Sisters

Sisters

"Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies." ~ Aristotle

The other night at yoga, we practiced with our eyes shut.

We moved without seeing for 75 minutes. Apparently, it was the night to focus on our Third Eye, the body’s energy center for insight and intuition.

I, myself, am more focused on not falling. And, I have to admit that I open my eyes a few times.

The first time is to make sure I’m not the only one with eyes closed, which, of course, makes me the only one with eyes open. The second time is to check the pose. And a couple more times, I have to say, is because I just can’t help it!

Aside from that, I move deliberately through darkness with those around me, listening to the matching melodies of the instructor’s voice and the music. Periodically, we sit back on our heels and bring our hands to forehead center for a look inside.

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Home

Home

here's no place like home, and home can be any place.

I’ve never ventured too far from home.

I grew up down the street from where I now live. I went to the local university, and my biggest move came after college when I left campus for what was then my ultimate destination—a downtown Mary Tyler Moore studio apartment.

To this day, even though I am hardly home, I remain a homebody.

Having a home base has always secured and centered me, even though its location has changed half a dozen times.

At this point in my life, I am surprised to find another home at yet another location, this one being my yoga mat.

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Confessions

Confessions

We all carry some secrets, large and small.

The small ones are universal. They are the everyday thoughts we keep quiet as we walk around doing whatever it is that we do.

And what I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning is yoga.

For the most part, the practice clears my head. Whatever is on my mind seems to leave through the music and the movement.

After one such practice, a fellow yogi walked up to me to compliment my poses.

How long have you been doing yoga? he asked.

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Sweat

Sweat

Most often I practice yoga in the morning, but the other day, I practiced at night.

I arrived dressed in work heels, work make up and work hair.

I grabbed the keys to the changing room and peeled off the day, putting on my yoga pants and top and taking off the shoes I had been in since 7:30 a.m.

It had been a long day, but something was still missing.

I had not yet sweat!

Before yoga, I had never worked out. I was raised to be a lady, and being a lady and sweating never quite equated for me.

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Movement

Movement

From one day to the next, I look forward to yoga.

It has been more than a year since I first stepped into the studio, and I never tire of it.

I like preparing to go. I like being there. I like the workout.

And, in turn, I like whatever it is I am doing afterwards.

The after effects of each class stay with me until the next class, and so I go as often as I can.

It is a good place, and it puts me in a good space.

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A Child

A Child

Am I supposed to heed a message when I hear the same thing more than once from two unrelated sources?

I am thinking so, even if it is a message I do not want to hear.

The message today: In many respects, I am like a child.

At my age, how can this be?

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Warrior

Warrior

We were standing in Warrior II, a pose that at one time was my favorite pose.

Arms extend front to back, the legs lunge forward, and the hips open to the side.

At one time, Ihad thought this pose was easy. Now, I beg to differ.

95 degree heat. Sweat dripping down every part of my body.

The class is an army of warriors, and the instructor is our commander, pointing out minor adjustments to everyone in the room.

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Chicken Little

Chicken Little

When I was little, the mean girl in the neighborhood just terrorized us.

I was five or six years old and hung with my sister, older by a year. I felt safe with her. This girl would sometimes join the other kids from the block when we played outside in our backyard.

One day the mean girl pointed to the sky.

We looked up and saw an airplane’s leftover white trail cutting the sky in two.

The sky is falling, she hollered! The sky is falling!

My sister ran, and I followed, convinced the white line had sliced the sky from the air.

We yanked open the screen door to the kitchen and let it slam behind us, considering ourselves safe on the inside while we peered fearfully at the sky outside.

I am afraid to say that I have sort of relived this scenario as an adult.

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Transformation

Transformation

I have lived many lives.

Childhood and motherhood. Married life and divorced life. Career girl and stay-at-home mom. Head of a full house and head of an empty nest.

Each life requires a transformation of sorts; some kind of shake up.

In moving from one life to another, I am able to look back over my shoulder to see where I have been, and how far I have come.

Transformation is BIG!

That is, until I found yoga.

In yoga, I experience small transformations that are impactful all the same. In yoga, I arrive at class in one state of mind and body and leave in another.

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Expansion

Expansion

Giving is a good thing.

It has positive connotations, especially in the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving and lasting through the end of the year.

It is good to give of our time, our talents, ourselves. 

But, when giving comes easy, other challenges can arise.

For me, giving is so much in my nature that receiving can actually be difficult, and this ironic concept was brought home in yoga just the other day.

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