I awoke just before 5am – the natural rhythm of my body these days. My eyes slowly opened and my mind called out “oh wait, it’s slipping away – that deep, beautiful dream is slipping…….oh, what was the message? I know it was important…and now it’s gone. Shame.”
I looked up at the ceiling, holding my hands over my belly and my chest, breathing deeply, connecting to my heartbeat.
I turned my head to look out the tall windows of my room, the cascading mountains of the Rishikesh Valley were still just silhouettes against the deep blue of dawn.
On the terrace beneath my room, that same Indian man was already on his yoga mat, wearing the same orange polo shirt as all the mornings before, different boxers today though, practicing Anuloma Viloma – a balancing breathing technique. I wondered if he was as aware of me between my sheets as I was of him on his mat. His dedication to his morning practice inspired me to move swiftly from my bed.
I took a quick cool shower, slipped into my shorts and t-shirt, tucked my mat under my arm and tiptoed up the marble stairs to the rooftop.
I rolled out my mat, facing the mountain peak where I knew the sun would soon rise, and settled into the calm ease of my morning sadhana (spiritual practice).
I began to flow as my meditation gave way to pranayama, to chanting “so hum, so hum, so hum, so hum, so hum…”, to āsanas. As the sun began his ascent over the mountains, the fluid motion of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) took over my body. With the breath – in, out, up, down; in, out, forward, back; in, out, rise, fall….left side, repeat. Right, left, repeat, repeat, repeat.
After at least 10 rounds, I found myself standing at the top of my mat, sweat tickling my brow and upper lip, chest rising and falling, eyes closed, hands over my heart.
The sun was now kissing my skin…with gusto. It was barely 6am and the heat was already uncomfortably present.
I kept my eyes closed as my toes found their way off the mat. My lips parted and a soft hum emerged. The hum begins to rise and fall, ascending and descending through waterfalls of tones. With this, my body begins to move.
My eyes remain closed as the hum opens into an expansive “ah”; my legs open wide, as my heart soars towards the sky. My eyes remain closed as my body begins to twirl, twist, reach and embrace. I am singing, I am dancing – my mind is silent. There is nothing but movement and sound and the warmth of the Sun.
My eyes are closed, my smile is wide.
I am vibrating.
As I crescendo in all movement and sound, a fierce howl emerges from the depths of my belly. It ripples up from that darkness, through the lightness of my chest, through the tightness in my throat, up, up, up, and out. I am caught off-guard by its power and smile at it’s wild nature, recognizing my true Self in its raw and juicy resonance.
I stand in stillness – vibrating.
Slowly my movements begin again, gentle, calm, steady. The Hum returns.
I step back onto my mat.
The only thought that enters my mind is:
“I am grateful for this freedom”.
Standing with my feet together, heart facing the Sun, I lift my arms up towards the sky, inhaling deeply.
Exhaling, I fold forward, my fingers come to greet my toes. I breathe deeply.
I plant my hands into the ground and step my feet back as I exhale – my hips rise high up into the air as my body mirrors the shape of the mountains surrounding me.
Inhaling, I lift my right leg back, I bend the knee and step my foot forward between my hands. I let my left knee drop to the ground.
I walk both hands to the inside of my front knee, my forearms rest on the ground as I let my chest drop towards the mat.
Here, I breathe. I surrender to the slight tension in my right hip, I surrender to the lengthening of my left quadriceps, I surrender to the inflow of thoughts in my mind, letting them pass me by.
I begin to think of the sequence I’d like to teach this afternoon at the ashram. I think of the posture I’m currently releasing into – Lizard Pose. I think of mentioning the benefits of this pose to my students – the opening of hips and lengthening of muscles, the massaging of internal organs.
I feel movement in my internal organs.
A deep grumble.
I think to mention to my students that during the practice of yoga asanas, we create movement both externally and internally; to feel free to leave the room if nature calls.
My internal organs grumble once more. I feel nature’s call.
I move out of the posture, quickly enter and exit the posture on the left side of my body, roll up my mat and make my way downstairs…