On the Mat

I went to yoga class six days a week last month, then signed up for another six days a week in March. Some days, I sling my mat over my shoulder and leave the house in the dark while everyone sleeps, one night I come home from class after they've all gone to bed. I take off Saturdays to rest my shoulders.

Attending so many classes - day after day after day - may be the single biggest indulgence I've ever given myself. I'm not ashamed. 

I practiced yoga for years: Ashtanga first in a sweatshop of an attic in a neighbor's house in Raleigh, then Iyengar after we moved to Virginia. I dropped the class when we went through our family's third or fourth round of belt-tightenings. The studio was 20 minutes from the house, parking was always tricky, the kids were exhausting and there were other excuses I used to ignore what my body craved.

When the hot yoga studio opened two blocks from home in January, it offered a hard-to-ignore deal of 10 classes for $99. At the time, my back still ached from morning to night and my feet tingled and I could barely touch my toes without bending my knees heavily, but I desperately wanted to do something. To move, to find comfort. So, I bought the package. Then another and another. And, here we are a full two months later and I woke in a toxic mood because the threat of snow forced the cancellation of my morning class. I don't just look forward to my time in the studio, I've come to rely on it. The heat, the solitude, the fun!

We're asked at the start of each class to set an intention. Throughout January, my intentions generally focused on one theme: healing. I asked to remain humble in my practice, not push my body where it didn't want to - or couldn't - go. I asked for calm or peace, anything to settle the spasms that made me weak-kneed throughout the day.

Somewhere along the way, though, I started to find ease in the practice. My back began to heal and my intentions changed. Now, I'm more likely to close my eyes, smile to myself and ask for freedom. I seek the "wild" in my practice. I ask to "fly."

Lately, I can't stop thinking about how grateful I am to have moved into a different phase with the kids. They clear their dishes from the table and fill the dishwasher; they wash and condition their own hair; they help me pick up. Tobias will go to preschool five days a week, four hours at a time next year. I'm on the cusp of something altogether different, sloughing an old story and writing an unfamiliar one. 

A friend recently tweeted the older she gets, "the more I understand the lure of the drunken, slutty mid-life crisis." It struck me immediately that I want the opposite. I'm done mistreating my body, punishing it with stupid decisions that leave me exhausted. I don't know if it's so much a crisis as a crystallization, but I'm ready to celebrate my strength. Tax and test my body, push it physically and find the wild.  


Lego #4

It's all about battles with this one, apparently. Given his loverboy personality, his passion for war seems disjointed. Nonetheless, I present "Battleship." 

"I was thinking of something in 'Star Wars,'" he said. 


Lego #3: Battle Royal

"The good guys are American and the bad guys are British," Tobias told me. "The good guys win!" Because he's still fighting the Revolutionary War, apparently.

Except, he later explained that the battle took place in the 1990s.

"No, I mean the '41s."

Long pause.

"It happened when the dinosaurs were around," he said, then skipped out of the room. 

And there you have it.


Singing Fairy

One of my yoga teachers is a tiny, dark-haired Brazilian woman with a lilting accent who sings a gentle chant at the close of each class. She reminds me of a little fairy. I want to crouch on my knees, poke my nose between the blades of grass and clover and invite her to climb into my cupped hands. 

I'll walk her home, careful not to bend her wings, and put her… where? On the kitchen windowsill where I can whisper to her as I wash up? 

She can hula hoop or skip along the sill - between paintbrushes and barrettes - cast her wand my direction and rain magical sparks over me to quiet the worry. She can sing while I close my eyes and float elsewhere.


Lego #2

It's a "battle airplane" with people who parachute out. "But not the driver," Tobias pointed out. No, I guess it wouldn't fly well if the driver jumped ship.