Today marks the halfway point in the Challenge, as so many of you are taking note of in the comments. (Woo-hoo!)
When I read the comments, mostly from the Virtual Yogarians, I get this “hankerin’ kind of yearnin’ feelin’,” just like they talk about in those twangy country-western songs, for the actual bodies of the Virtuals to be in class.
A class like my 7 o’clock class tonight: 18 people, jammed in, crowded in. The kinda snarky, kinda grumbly, kinda funny people that I love to see. Wonky-kneed and tired from the day, but there. Totally present. Ready to surrender. “Hip openers tonight, you say? Bring it, Yogamama!”
Yeah. The Virtuals needed to be in that class tonight. I missed them terribly. They are doing the yeoman’s practice, the daily “alone” practice that I am hoping to convince my “live”students to adopt once the Challenge is over and they go back to coming to class only once or twice a week.
An “alone” practice isn’t better than a class practice, it’s just different.
Tonight I told my class the Arnold Lobel Frog and Toad story called “Alone.”
Here’s how it goes:
Toad (the more neurotic character) goes to Frog’s house and finds a note on his door saying that Frog has gone off to be alone. Toad immediately jumps to the conclusion that Frog is sad and depressed and doesn’t want to be his friend anymore.
He goes to find Frog and discovers him sitting all alone on an island out in the middle of the river. Toad thinks that Frog needs cheering up so he puts together a picnic basket and gets a turtle to give him a ride out to to the island. On the ride out, Toad and the picnic basket topple into the river.
When Toad finally gets to Frog with the wet sandwiches, he finds out that Frog is far from sad and depressed. In fact, Frog is in a fine mood! He has been sitting on the island all day thinking about how wonderful his life is. He has been thinking about how wonderful it is to be a Frog, how wonderful it is to be alive and to have Toad for a friend. He has been sitting on the island all day contemplating his rich and wonderful life.
After this misunderstanding is cleared up, Frog and Toad finish out the day on the island together, eating the wet sandwiches, feeling happy to be alone together.
And that is exactly what happens in a yoga class! We all do our individual practice, alone. We drop into our bodies, we drop into our breath. We create a little island of serenity and intimacy around us in order to know ourselves better and to feel gratitude for our “one wild and precious life.”
And at the same time, we feel the energy of the others practicing in the same room, and their effort buoys us up, supports us, encourages and inspires us to greater efforts than we could ever achieve alone (possibly).
We get that that “Alone Together” thing going, that thing that is so rich and sweet and satisfying. We go through a grueling hip opening practice like we did tonight (complete with Frog pose!) and when it’s over and we are tying our shoes and putting away our blankets, we look at the others who also breathed (and suffered) through Frog with us, and we smile, knowing that we shared a moment, that we helped each other, that we practiced our yoga “alone, yet together.”
Yeah, I miss the Virtual Yogarians. I hope that they know that we are all practicing in solidarity, that they are not alone. We are sending our “oms” and our “namastes” to them on their decks, in their hotel rooms, in their living rooms before the kids get up.
We are all, each of us, always practicing (and living) alone together.