This Tuesday night I had a rare and memorable experience, a feeling that I had brushed up against an external force unseen but protectively present.
It was Emma’s Tuesday night Ashtanga guided primary series class. I was set up as usual next to the windows along the right side of the classroom toward the front. I like being next to the window so I have something to focus on in balance on in hasta padasana. I’m halfway blind anyway due to astigmatism, and presbyopia, the far sightedness of advancing years doesn’t make that any easier. I like lots of angles-the panes of a window, the bark of an oak, the bricks of the house next door, to stimulate my dull visual system into action, reinforcing equilibrium.
Sweet Susan, one of my favorite yoga friends and a wonderful young person working selflessly as a health coach was on the mat directly in front of me.
Closing sequence was welcome as I was tired from a long night on call Monday. The hot June sun streamed in making this mildly heated class hot indeed. Sirasana, headstand, is a pose I’ve worked hard on for the past year. I’m at my edge pulling up through urdva dandasana and standing solidly on my mat away from the wall inverted but as a mountain, grounded.
To do this I’ve had to accept the possibility of falling and to overcome the fear of falling. Hot and tired after an hour practice sometimes I do fall but in a tight ball all tuck and roll…except Tuesday.
I had inadvertently moved toward the front of my mat and Susan unbekown to me was lying in savasana at the bottom of her mat. I lost my bandas, and as the structure began to sway, the fall became inevitable.
If I had done my usual forward tuck and role I would have possibly planted my heel in Susan’s face.
And then it happened…Emma said “you sensed where Susan was and fell to the side to avoid hitting her” but I don’t think I deserve that much credit. As I became more unstable in my inversion and inched toward the inevitability of falling, I felt an external force on my left ankle extending my leg and pulling me up and to the left. I hung suspended momentarily before falling awkwardly to the left, twisted over cork blocks.
I absolutely felt a physical presence that deflected my body from a ruinous collision that could have easily injured my young friend.
My back is a little tweaked, my left groin more than a little sore from the awkward trajectory of my descent but I am left to wonder what I felt on my ankle, and is that benign force still protecting me and those I care about?
And gratitude…how easily we forget.
Thanks for reading,