Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sisters

Sisters Ida Phillips Alpher and Katherine Phillips Horenstein
"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.

I wonder if anyone else has more than just themselves inside. Because inside me, I’ve got some company!

My grandmother, Kate, and her sister, Ida, were thick as thieves. Two sisters, one soul, their mother would say.

From the very beginning of their lives, they were on a journey together. Born in Russia, their father emigrated to the United States and sent for them with the rest of the family when they were only a few years old.

And, although my grandmother outlived her sister by many years, they paced the days of their lives alongside one another, always together.

When it was time for Ida to go to kindergarten, she refused, saying she would wait until the next year when her sister Kate would be old enough to join her. And when it was time for Ida to get married, she refused, saying she would wait until the time when her sister Kate would find someone, too.

So Kate and Ida, two best friends, married another set of two best friends, Max and Duvid (Do). They had matching engagement rings, a double wedding and a shared honeymoon.

My mother remembers my Aunt Ida and Uncle Do coming over every Sunday during her growing up years. The sisters would put dinner in the oven and climb into bed for a lazy afternoon, talking until it was time to eat.

During the rest of the week, the two spoke every day.

For some reason, since I’ve started practicing yoga, I’ve been thinking about these two sisters. I feel a kinship with them and, when I look inside, I feel their presence.

When I was little, we saw them every Sunday. They were in charge of my siblings and me when my parents traveled, and they patiently watched the many shows my sister and I would perform. We sang songs and played four square. And, best of all, my Aunt Ida let us toss knaidles, the Jewish version of dumplings, clear across the kitchen and into the pot.

And now as an adult, these sisters are back with me again, even recently appearing at one of the few meditation classes I’ve attended.

I was seated in a circle at a session led by a rabbi who’s established a mindfulness center at his synagogue. The rabbi related a story from the week’s Torah portion and discussed its mystical meanings that so closely relate to the Buddhist teachings of yoga, and then we closed our eyes for a few minutes’ meditation.

Afterwards, people volunteered the thoughts they had behind their eyes.

I listened but didn’t speak because what had appeared behind my eyes was more of an image than a thought. What I saw inside was my Aunt Ida and my Bubba Kate.

Somehow, I didn’t think it strange but, at the time, I wondered why they had appeared.

Now, though, as I write this, I realize that I was sitting in that circle because I was seeking something soothing at a tumultuous time. And, sitting there with my eyes closed seemed to help me find just that. In the connection behind my eyes, the image of these sisters passed along some peace.

A while ago, to celebrate a milestone birthday, I received from my parents my mother’s necklace, embedded with the matching diamonds from Ida and Kate’s engagement rings. With permission, I dismantled the necklace into a pair of earrings to be shared among the generations in the family; the diamonds, like the sisters, a complete set.

My Aunt Ida was my mother’s confidant, a strong woman who lived her life outwards, making many connections and sharing in her sister’s family when she herself could not have children. It’s my guess that my Aunt Ida may have been my Bubba Kate’s safety net.

Kate lost her husband and later lost her sister Ida. And then she stayed on her own, living in a much more isolated way.

And now, these days, when I sit back for a look inside, I see in myself the opposite sides of each sister. I see the one who connects so easily with others, and I see the one who remains more so on her own.

I’ve been battling to reconcile these two opposite ends, but now I’m thinking that maybe it’s okay they’re both there, like two sisters with one soul. Maybe, having both is like matching up two diamonds for a beautiful set of heirloom earrings.


The class is over sooner than I realize. Practicing like this has taken all my concentration, and it takes a moment to reorient myself. I wrap up my mat and thank the instructor, grateful for the chance to have closed my eyes and seen so much.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Foundations


May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift  ~ Forever Young, Bob Dylan 

I’ve been taking Rocket yoga for more than a year now. 

Three times a week, I go to the same class with the same teacher. She mixes it up, and we fly and invert and lock and lift. I rarely miss a class, so I figure I’ve practiced Rocket more than 100 times. 

How is it, then, that I’ve only recently realized that at every practice, we move through a foundational sequence before we take off?  

Am I the only one who didn’t know we were putting on the undergarments of our practice before getting dressed for the rest? 

Like most young girls, I was taught my first foundation lesson at an early age: to always wear nice underwear in case I’m in an accident and wind up in the hospital. 

Foundations can last a lifetime, and that’s why every day, I’ve got on pretty underwear under there. And I think that’s also why we are working on a foundation at Rocket. It’s not just for that day’s practice, but for the rest of our practicing days. 

How is it that I’m just catching on to this? 

We do each pose for five breaths in a particular order, building one on the other, each new posture getting another five breaths and only adding the whistles and bells after completing both sides. 

Maybe it’s taken me this long to realize what’s going on at the beginning because I’m so busy focusing on the middle. I’m waiting for what I think are the fun parts, like the handstands and the arm balances and the rest. 

But here, at Rocket, and seemingly unbeknownst to me until now, we’ve apparently been threading together the foundation of a practice with patience and persistence. 

It’s as if the practice is one long Home Economics project, with the instructor the head seamstress, putting down the pattern and laying out the big pieces first, teaching us to stitch together the larger parts before adding on the beautiful buttons, the fancy pockets, the sparkling sequins. 

It’s methodical. It’s challenging. And like with the creation of any lasting foundation, I think it’s making me stronger. 

I remember being in a sewing class in seventh grade, and let’s just say it wasn’t a place I excelled. There really was never any kind of foundation laid out in the class, nothing to build upon. We were just given a pattern and sent out to sea without a captain. I gave a shirt and a skirt my best efforts. 

The instructor would walk around, looking down on those of us seated and sewing. Those around me seemed to do fine, but I’d be adrift, jamming the machine and ripping out the seams I’d just sewn. My mother rescued me, finishing my projects on the sly at home. 

There is a foundation very specific to Ashtanga, the instructor says each time. We’ll do each pose, and when we add a new one, we’ll hold it for five breaths. Then, we’ll add the binds and the balances. 

Maybe she announced this on Day One, I’m not sure. But, it seems that for several days a week and for most weeks this year, I’ve been getting dressed layer by layer without knowing it. 

It’s only now that I see there’s even been a pattern every week at every practice, each pose like a piece of fabric, each movement the placement of the pieces, with all the effort and sweat securing the seams in place. 

We thread together the Sun As and Sun Bs and the Warrior Is and IIs. We reach into Triangles and Reverse Triangles and Extended Side Angles, and seamlessly move into High Lunges and Reverse Extended Side Angles. We make sure the right and left sides match by repeating the same sequence on each. 

And when we have completed this basic foundation, we reinforce its stitching, moving through it again, this time adding the trappings like Bound Half Moon, Bird of Paradise and Reverse Bird and more. 

The other night, the practice room was packed, and it was hot. The instructor climbed up on the windowsill and braced herself inside its frame, looking down on us like Spiderman. 

Think of me up here as your captain so I can help guide you! she exclaimed. Let’s double dip, she announced, referring to our yoga push ups. Be honest. This is your chance to get stronger. 

This all struck me as perfectly normal, with her in the window as captain and me at sea among the other yogis. 

I’m here to build my foundation, so I listen to the captain and double dip as best I can. 

And I think it’s working. My dips are feeling stronger. 

Of course, it could just be the new underwear I bought to practice yoga. A fellow yogi had pointed them out in the store. 

I picked up a pair and said, If you see me flying in class, you’ll know they’re working.

After that, I returned to buy some more. And, of course, I got some pretty colors, because any foundation is worth maintaining, especially if it helps me fly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nose Dive


From the time I was little, I was taught to stand up straight and sit up straight.  

Even in my little girl ballet classes, when we folded forward, we had to hold the fold so straight that even the teacher’s lipstick case would not roll off our backs. 

Summers would find me at camp, seated with my bunkmates on benches instead of on chairs at each meal. I remember part way through one summer, the counselor looking at all of us hunched there and exclaiming, You all started out sitting up so straight, and now look at you! We rose to better attention and, for the rest of the summer, made a conscious effort to sit up straight. 

And, yes, a la Marcia and Jan Brady, I even spent several months with my sister going to what was called Charm School, where we walked around balancing a book on our heads. 

Today, there are studies about the positive effects of a positive posture. Posture can be what it takes to fake it ‘til you make it on any given day because how we carry ourselves is how we care for ourselves.  

After all, what’s being lifted when we hold ourselves up is our hearts, so there’s really no better reason to not be slouching around. 

So now, with ballet and camp and charm school in the past, I turn to yoga to straighten up.  

At yoga, there’s lots of talk about the heart and, before we even start, we are called to the top of our mats and told to stand up straight. We pull in our bellies and push down our shoulders. We reach up, lift up, and look up.  

And it’s no matter how hunched over I might have been before or for how long because the practice gives me the chance to stand up straight again and again, and that only feels good. 

It’s taken me a long time to fall in love with any of the heart opening poses, where we lift or puff out our chests. But, now, I even like leaning back, so my heart flows up and over and almost overboard. 

I’ve taken some classes where this intuitive link between movement and the heart is emphasized. For me, these classes seem to help close the gap between the young girl who knew to always sit up straight and the older one who, at times, can forget to walk tall. 

In these classes, it’s slow going and hard working. We reach and stretch and pull ourselves into postures, and we are reminded to have our hearts like Sphinx, the pose where, even low to the ground, the shoulders are back and the chest is lifted. 

Round and round we go, following our hearts to the front of the mat and then to the back, stopping each time to open and lift to one side or the other.  

And more recently, we’ve done something called Toppling Tree, where we go through a series of balances on one foot only to wind up with the other high in the air behind us, our bodies in a nose dive with our chests lifted and leading the way to the mat. 

And, surprisingly, it’s there in that nose dive that all my caution disappears. I come to stillness while soaring towards the mat as my arms and shoulders pull back and my chest presses forward in this one big tilt led by the heart. 

By the time we get to the part where we put our hands on our hips and turn out our toes to lean back, I find I can lift my heart high enough and lean back far enough to get a full on look at the wall behind me. And, I wonder if I’m overboard enough to put my hands down for Wheel, or if my heart is just telling me I can.  

And when it’s time for the ending backbends, mine come easily and without any usual stiffness. 

If movement and the heart are linked, then I guess I can liken caring for my heart the way I would walking with a cupful of coffee and no cover. I’d have to tread lightly so as not to spill. 

And that’s a pretty daunting analogy, because I’ve always been a big spiller. 

Regardless, in this class, it’s like I’m filled to the brim but able to move without a lid. I think that’s how I wound up so happy in the nose dive. 

At the end of class, we are asked to sit up straight with our hands at our hearts. And without further ado or the usual closing, the instructor says only: You all will have sweet dreams tonight. 

And this simple announcement actually comes true. That night, I close my eyes to a dream where I’m practicing the same circular motions in the same roundabout flow, my heart lifted by the movements for another chance to stand up straight again and again, even in my sleep.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Catch Me!


"Upside down. Who's to say what's impossible and can't be found?" ~ Jack Johnson
 
I was in a very hot yoga practice, and we were more than halfway through. The day had only half begun, I was only half-caffeinated, and we were in Eagle Pose. 

For some reason, I’ve been having trouble keeping my balance in Eagle. I try to find a point in front of me to clear my mind, so I don’t even have to think about balancing, but that only makes me think about it all the more, and over I go. 

This day in Eagle, my mind is already moving quickly ahead. Usually, we do Eagle on both sides, right and then left, and then right and left again. Sometimes, after the second time around, we move into bound Warrior III and then into Standing Split.

And then I know what’s coming next. In fact, my mind is already there while I am wrapping myself up in Eagle. At that point, for those of us who want to, we get to pop into handstand or, at least, to try.
 

Before practice, I usually attempt a few handstands. I’ve been working on these forever, and now I’m working on them without the wall. And I can never tell when they’re going to show up.  

At best, they’ve been sporadic guests. They arrived this past summer, but then left for the fall. They were home for the holidays, but then left again. I’ve been doing my best to get them to move back in for good. 

And they hate the heat. It’s especially tough to find them in the middle of a hot practice. 

Usually, I have to see things to put them to memory, and I’ve used a lot of visualization to find handstand. In general, I think this is how I learn and process most things. I’ve been doodling since I was little, from pictures in my mind to pictures on the paper. 

Sometimes in handstand, I picture myself being pulled in and up, as I was in a recent workshop. I had been upside down when I saw two feet step under my nose before two hands wrapped themselves around my lower belly and pressed.  

This assist automatically lifted and straightened me beyond where I was. And, when I came down and saw it was the instructor, I told him not only was I surprised not to recognize his feet that I’d been watching for the better part of an hour but, even more so, I was surprised that I had any room left for more lift or straightening.

It also helps to picture my friend who wrote to me while on vacation about the freedom she felt when practicing handstands on a yoga deck. She said all that space outside a crowded studio freed her mind to allow her body to easily achieve handstand. 

And since then, on my way upside down, I visualize lots of space all around and even above, and I imagine my feet reaching upwards beyond the ceiling towards the sky and into the clouds, and this seems to help my whole body follow. 

I also picture my shoulder girdle, which I used to think was between my shoulders and across my back but actually now realize surrounds each shoulder. Going up, I picture my shoulders encased in something strong, so they can stack above my wrists and provide a sturdy base for my torso. 

So, really, there’s an entire artist’s rendering going on in my mind when I go upside down and sometimes even long before I invert.

This day, the paintbrushes start flying in Eagle. And when it comes time to try a few handstands, my palette is already prepared.  

I hop up on my good side. My right leg in the air, I push off lightly with my left and picture my hips stacking, waiting for the feeling that lets me know I have it, that lets me know it’s okay for my left leg to meet my right.  

And, finally, I make the connection, upside down.

But that lightness, that stillness, that space where I pull in my belly for my feet to reach the clouds, eludes me, and I feel my feet start drawing outside the lines, moving further over my hips to the wrong side of the room. 

And in this quiet and hot room, where the only sound is the breath, I distinguish myself without warning, calling out the instructor’s name followed by a plea:

CATCH ME! 

But I never felt his catch because somehow, I catch myself. Somehow, and I don’t know how, I get myself straightened out. 

It seems my panic cleared my mind so my body could do its work.  

The instructor later told me I did it by grabbing the floor with my fingertips and pulling in my core. I had no idea. I couldn’t picture it! 

All I know is that the preparation that started in Eagle that day had blocked my view, making it difficult to see the whole picture. And, in the end, I was somehow able to save myself on instinct. 

This instructor impresses on the class to let go of our stories when we arrive on the mat. We’re not supposed to predetermine the practice. We’re just supposed to be, and we do this through the breath. 

But this day, it takes my panic to make me present, which isn’t exactly the game plan. Even so, learning that I can save myself when I think I need someone to catch me isn’t too bad a takeaway. 

Still, I am leaving the light on for those handstands.  

It’s like they’re not mine, I told this same instructor days earlier. It’s like each time, I’m wondering if they’re going to show up. 

Maybe my mental artwork is more on display than I think, because he just looked at me with a smile and, without words, pointed to his head, making the perfect picture for the next time I go upside down.

 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Adventure

My son, Ben, skydiving in Australia

“So come out of your cave walking on your hands and see the world from upside down.” ~ The Cave, Mumford and Sons

The other night, I was at yoga, laying out my mat, unwinding it from its bag and doing the same from my day. I prefer a spot against the wall, where I can try a few handstands without going overboard. I walk along my mat and talk with those nearby, enjoying the switch from my work day to my yoga night, chatting and pacing and popping into handstands. 

And I wonder, where else, really, would this seem normal? 

Aside from my Instagram friend who sneaks photos in her office attire when no one’s around, putting up pictures of handstands by a file cabinet or backbends atop a conference table, I’m not sure I know anywhere else I could chat while upside down without anyone wondering what’s wrong with me. 

I’ve come to realize that I feel the most like myself when I’m at yoga. It’s nice here, more than nice. There is a freedom once I park my car and walk to the studio, as if I am leaving one life and showing up at another.  

And this transition has been a huge adventure for someone like me, someone who doesn’t love change and who takes comfort in sameness. 

It’s not that I’m not who I am outside of yoga. It’s pretty hard to be anyone else, anyway. It’s just that on my mat, I feel the closest to me and to the girl I was so long ago.  

On my mat, it just is what it is, a phrase I usually hate to hear. It’s the phrase I come up against when no amount of justifying or explaining can make things how I’d rather they be. It’s the phrase that speaks the truth, and that’s what I get on my mat. 

It is what it is on the mat because it’s pretty bare there, and so am I. Even what I wear is bare, my shoulders, sometimes my midriff and even my feet. Once there, I put up my hair, which for me is a fairly personal thing. Off my mat and outside the house, my hair is always down and done. 

The yogi seated to my right looks up at me as if we’d been in conversation and exclaims, Wouldn’t that be amazing? 

What? I ask, realizing that she thinks I’ve overheard the yogi on her other side. 

To have the kind of job that can take you anywhere? she answers. Where you get to go anywhere?  

No! I say immediately back. I’m a homebody, I admit from my mat, coming down from a handstand against the comfort of the wall. I don’t want to go all over the place! Coming here is my big adventure! 

But then I sit down to ask this young girl where her job takes her and find that she has just returned from months studying dolphins in Australia. And from my perch on my mat, I am indeed amazed.  

My yogi friends are big adventurers. To me, it seems they are scared of nothing. I love to hear what they do and where they’ve been. They are young and brave and adventurous, and I’m doing my best to learn from them.   

I am on the road back from something, an adventure that had been chaotic and challenging. I had been young and brave and adventurous then, and I think that’s what helped me through. It’s just that I thought the objective was to find peace and safety, kind of like the spot against the wall where I can’t fall over if I go upside down.  

The classes I take are pretty powerful, and maybe that’s why I’ve met so many adventurous people, those that run and bike and ski and more, those that are not necessarily looking for peace or safety. And when I wonder what I’m doing here among them, I think back to when I was young and brave and adventurous, too. 

Maybe I am trying to find that girl again.

One yogi friend runs to yoga, takes the class and runs home. She was there throughout her pregnancy and was always one of the few who could hold the backbends through all the counts. Another yogi is an avid skier who just spent a recent afternoon on a trampoline. And there’s the man who completed 20 years in the military who hopes to teach as part of Yoga for Wounded Warriors.  

My son’s a yogi, and he’s jumped out of an airplane. Yet another yogi biked to the beach, more than 100 miles away, to raise money for Autism. Still another friend hails from across the globe, having spent the past year teaching yoga in the States and just this week returns to her country for yet another brave beginning. 

And how can I not mention the young woman who spent many years as a platform diver, studied in faraway places and is recovering from a knee injury received while cliff diving. She is forever my example of grace and strength and determination as she maintains her practice, her work and her indomitable spirit while healing.  

Homework!
That night’s practice is intense, and I am glad to reach the end when it’s time for inversions. As before, I pop into a handstand, secured by the wall behind me.  

After balancing a bit, I lower my legs and stand up for a breather. I face the wall, thinking about how much I like this part of the practice, with the room dark, the music playing and everyone upside down. 

A tap on my shoulder catches me by surprise, and someone’s hands spin me out of my reverie. It is the instructor, making me face front, away from the wall.  

It’s just so seamless at this point, she says. No more wall for you. Hope you don’t mind and hope you had fun there, because you’re done with that.  

She stands there and, under unspoken instructions, I place my palms on the mat and lift my legs into a handstand away from the wall. Each time I wobble, I feel the instructor point my core back to where it should be, so I can be upside down but still stable. 

And just like that, I am set on a course for a new adventure, joining the ranks of those around me and getting that much closer to the girl who had been there once before.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Son


“Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy …” ~ John Lennon 

I’ve learned that we never stop growing up, but I have a son who I keep thinking is all grown up.

Or, so it seems to me. 

I guess I think he is all grown up because it’s hard for me to find anything that I can still do for him or that he needs me still to do. As a young adult, he lives on his own in another city and has a job and supports himself. 

When he was little, I’d pack his lunch, hold his hand, buy his clothes, play endless catch, sit on the sporting sidelines, keep him dry in the rain, and tuck him in at night. 

Now, he does all that and more on his own, and I’m certainly not the one tucking him in at night. 

When he was born, I felt an immediate kinship, as if on the inside, he was me and I was him, a symbiosis from day one. And it’s like he knew this, too. As a baby, I would hold him and pat his back, and his little hand would pat my back right back as if to say, I know, Ma. 

As a single mom raising this boy, I learned so much about myself. I found myself in this boy who would color and draw and then oil his baseball glove and break it in each night under his mattress; who would lay his head on my shoulder and then put on his hockey gear and skates; who would tell me he loved me but make me promise to lay low on the soccer sidelines; who would give me play-by-plays of tennis matches but ask me to wait in the car at practice; who would blast his music but still listen to mine. 

As he grew up, I had to learn how to make space to respect his, so we could remain simpatico, so I could still come along for the ride that is his life. 

It did not surprise me that soon after I took up yoga, he did, too. First, in college, to fulfill some credits, and then more so as he started to work. 

And now, when I visit him or he comes home, it’s what we do. 

The other day, we placed our mats alongside each other to practice at a new studio. Here, the instructor blasted the music at an extra high volume each time we held a pose or worked a handstand. And each time, it would be one of my favorite tunes from way back when, and my son would look over at me and grin and nod, I know, Ma. 

And even though he is what I consider all grown up, he doesn’t mind my reaching out to pat him in the middle of the practice and, sometimes, he even pats me right back. 

We do yoga. We get juice. We go to lunch. We even shop. He holds my hand as he walks me around the city from here to there throughout the day. And, later, I hear from his sister that he loves when I visit, because he says I can just fold right into whatever it is they do.  

And I’m grateful for this. For the closeness and for the space that makes for it. 
 
And I am surprised to see myself again now, in this grown up young man. We have pictures from these recent days, when I can see myself in him. I am somehow appearing in this young man who looks like his dad and his uncle, and not just in pictures but in how we think and in what we say, sometimes in the same words and at the same time. 

And when our practice is over, we sit up and, together, we say Namaste. And I am filled up with such gratefulness to have practiced with my boy, feeling so blessed that he is there, that I am still able to pat his back and get one back. 

The next day, he invites me to an appointment. We are to meet there, but it’s raining, and he texts me that he’ll pick me up with the umbrella, and I realize that this day, he’s the one keeping me dry in the rain. 

Before this trip, my son was home for a visit. He was looking around at several things from years past and said that some of it made him feel bad. As with everyone who grows up, there are things left behind that would rather be forgotten. I know this is true of me; how can it not be true for him? 

In yoga, one of the things we are taught is that it’s okay to let go, that we don’t have to hang onto everything that brought us to where we are now. 

So I make a promise that on his next trip home, we will purge the old stuff and lighten the load. 

It made me think back to the end of a practice, months earlier. I had turned my mat to the wall, facing a new direction by the end of class. It was hot. I was wrung out. The practice had done its magic before the instructor added some of his own. 

Letting go is not a loss, the instructor said, his words like a wand sweeping across the room. I felt him grant me the same permission I wanted to grant my son.  

It’s not a lessening. Letting go, he said, actually makes room for abundance. 

This winter, my son went snowboarding, an annual activity that kind of scares me. On some such trips, I ask him to please just send a signal that he’s breathing. I figure that makes for space because I don’t need a phone call; instead, just a short text will do. 

This time, the message reads: Alive and well and it comes with a picture. He is in a headstand atop a snowy mountain, sending a signal loud and clear. 

He might as well have just sent the words, I know, Ma.

Monday, December 16, 2013

False Starts


Sometimes, we only think we know where we should be. 

The other night, for whatever reason, I was not supposed to be at yoga.
 
I don’t know why, and I never will, but I was not supposed to be there.

That’s not to say I didn’t try. Believe me, I did!

In yoga, we’re told to trust the process. I’ve heard this saying lots of times, but it’s only recently that I’ve begun to understand its meaning. I think it means that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at the time we are there, even if we think we should be elsewhere.

And the other night, I got the chance to trust this process.

For whatever reason, my best efforts to get to yoga landed me right back where I started. I don’t know why, and I never will; but, in the end, I think I have to trust that I was just not supposed to be there.

I came home from work and did whatever it is I do when I come home. Per my usual, at 7 pm, I changed into my yoga clothes and left the house.

I am an early bird by nature. I have a hard time being late, and to be on time and not early actually takes an effort on my part.

Usually, I have an easy drive to yoga, a miraculously easy time finding parking, and I always wind up on my mat at the start of class.

On this beautiful winter night, the sky was clear, the stars were out, and the moon followed me on my drive downtown. It hung low in the sky with a yellowish tinge and served as a backdrop to a pretty strange night of yoga that never was.

I landed in a great parking spot, but the meter was broken. Two other yogis were trying to pay as well. No luck for any of us.

I hopped back in the car, made an illegal, non-yogic U-turn and parked in another spot across the street behind yet another yogi. This time, the meter worked.

Class was starting in 10 minutes, and the line was out the door. At this studio, signing up online does not guarantee a spot, and I chatted with the yogi who had parked in front of me while we inched slowly forward. This part always takes patience. It’s where the practice really begins!

We were close enough to the entrance to hear the instructor start the class. And then, to my surprise, we were turned away. The room was full, there were no more spots.

On the walk back to our cars, my parking buddy confided that she had a backup plan. I begged her to tell me. I was all set to practice with no place to go.

I don’t know if you are as crazy as I am, she replied.

I assured her I was absolutely crazy without a doubt, and she told me about a class starting in 20 minutes across town.

So, off we went on a second try.

The moon was framed in my car’s front window, and it kept me company as I drove further downtown to a perfect spot right in front of this next studio.

My name was put on a wait list below that of my new yoga pal’s. This class was full, too. After intense discussions between the instructor and the front desk, it was determined that there was only one spot left.

It’s gotta be hers, I said. After all, this was her back up plan.

No, it’s gotta be hers, she said, I don’t want bad karma! I told her to come!

Two yogis being too nice.

The front desk assured us that her name was legitimately before mine on the wait list, so in she went, and home I went.

It had been two hours since I had set out for yoga. Driving home, I was reminded of another time I was all dressed up for yoga with no place to go.

It was the previous fall, and I was leaving for an early morning class when I locked myself out of the house without realizing I had access to the spare keys in my garage.

Fortunately, I had my phone and my coffee and called for someone with a spare. I sat down in the dark with the morning moon for company and missed my class, thinking I was stuck on the front stoop.

Later that same night, I told my friend the story, that I had sat outside that morning with access to my keys the whole time without knowing and without going.

This friend has a beautiful Jamaican accent and calls me Han. It was early evening, and the moon had yet to show its face.

Han, he said, you were not supposed to be at yoga this morning. He’s not a yogi, but he knew to trust the process. He simply shook his head in response and smiled knowingly.

There is a reason why, he said, but we don’t get to know it.