It’s the holiday season, and it’s dark and cold.
And on this night it’s rainy, too.
I pick up some sushi after work and gratefully arrive home, changing out of my clothes and warming up in a quick, hot bath. Then I go downstairs to turn on the television and pour a glass of wine, quickly deciding not to go to yoga, even though that’s been my usual spot on this night for the past few years.
I text my friend to let her know I’ll be absent from my mat. I’m already tucked into another of my usual spots, the space between the sofa and the coffee table. With so much seating in this room, I rarely take an actual seat. I’m a perfect fit in this cozy nook, and it’s often ideal for watching TV or eating a meal.
I receive an immediate response.
“Noooooo! Get up! Come!”
I have eaten what for me is a lot of sushi. Plus, I have already started on my wine and tell her so.
“You’ll sweat it out in no time,” she responds. “If you can drive, you can come to yoga!”
I remember an evening practice at which some yogis arrived from Happy Hour. They said it was their best practice ever! But even though I’ve only had a few sips, I still don’t know if I will go. There’s the drive. And the parking. And the dark and the rain and the cold. And on top of all that I haven’t slept in two nights because my thumb hurts!
I confess to my silly thumb injury, as well as to my lack of sleep, and receive another quick response.
“Come practice, and you will sleep extra well tonight!”
A part of me must want to go, because suddenly I am up from my spot. I’ve put away my wine and my sushi and am already halfway up the steps to change.
I stand in my closet. There’s no question this evening calls for polka dots.
I know what I wear shouldn’t matter. In fact, none of the trappings at yoga should matter. But there’s a surprising power in polka dots. They help me out the door. They bolster my practice. They have a power similar to that of my navy blue mat, which is even greater on the days when my towel and my pants and my top are all navy blue, too.
And so on this night I put on my underwear with the white polka dots for the cold. And my pants with the gray polka dots for the dark. And my sports bra with the black polka dots for the rain.
And then it’s easy to leave the house.
I hop in the car and turn on the radio and at once I’m glad to be out. The bath, the TV, my spot and the sushi are all quickly behind me. And the drive is amazingly easy, and upon arrival I find a parking spot waiting for me!
The studio is abuzz with energy. The class before mine is full, and mine is about to be. I put down my things and look around. I want to find my friend and thank her for the encouragement.
I remember a time when it was all I could do to leave the house.
“What did you do before this?” a fellow yogi once asked me.
“Nothing,” was my honest answer.
Truth be told, yoga didn’t just get me out of the house. It got me out of a spot that I didn’t even know I was in. Somehow I had tucked myself into a place as comfortable as the one between the sofa and the coffee table, and it wasn’t until I started to move on the mat that I realized how ensconced I’d been.
And so I always practice with gratitude, knowing that once there was a time when I didn’t even know what I was missing, when I never would have dared to dress myself in a galaxy of polka dots.
This evening’s practice is intense and sweaty, and as predicted I sleep deeply afterward. And when I wake up I feel wonderful, and this feeling lasts all day. And so I email my friend to let her know what a good deed it was that she had done for me.
This friend is always out and about. She works and practices yoga, goes to the gym and hikes and swims, all without ever wearing any polka dots. So I am surprised by her response. It seems that without knowing it I had returned the favor.
“You were my inspiration to get myself out of bed [for more yoga] this morning,” she writes. “I thought to myself, ‘Anne did it last night; I can go this morning.’”
Days later, our instructor kicked off the holiday season with a fundraising event. Much of the community showed up to support her cause, and it wasn’t long before the space was filled with a motley mix of mats, polka-dotting the floor with every color of the rainbow and more.
One mat in particular had seen better days, and the owner exclaimed as much.
“It’s time for me to get a new mat,” she said aloud.
A mat is a yogi’s favorite spot, and so it’s not that easy to give up. It’s four feet of a thousand steps and part of every yogi’s story. In fact, there’s an entire story behind my navy blue mat. I first had to leave my purple one behind, which was no easy task!
On this evening the instructor calls us to the tops of our mats and then takes us through an hour of energetic flow. After, the champagne flows, too, and we mingle, shopping at several tables of holiday wares and sharing in some festive treats to eat. And then the evening ends with a raffle.
“Look!” my friend exclaims. “I won a mat! I’m going to give it to the yogi who needs a new one!” She holds it out in front of her, beaming.
“Let me see!” I exclaim back. I want to gauge the potential of this new mat, to check out what will be this yogi’s new spot.
And when she holds it up, I can’t believe my eyes! The power of this mat is just too bold to behold! Glistening from bottom to top and in every spot, it shimmers with a galaxy of golden polka dots!
And I want so badly to express what I see, to describe all that’s wrapped up in that mat. But what to say and where to begin and how to explain it all? So instead I simply snap a picture, because I just can’t document this with words.
And then I gather my things, because it’s time to leave. The holidays have started and soon it will be the New Year. And as I say goodbye, it dawns on me why it was okay that I earlier didn’t know what to say.
It’s because this season belongs to everyone. And that means we’ll all have a chance to connect the dots with the gifts we’re about to receive.