Crying at the Sky

I was in yoga on Saturday morning. Because it was Heritage Day, we could not meet at the Heritage House. So we met on the band shell of Ballard Park. It was a little like being on stage. Well, it was like that because we were on stage.

Almost everything that Michael, the teacher, says during class is brilliant. He said that in a new translation of the Upanishads, published in 2008, a line was written, “Hope is never false.” And he was making a political statement. 2008 was about hope. Hope is never false.

Wow. His July theme for the yoga classes was independence. Because Independence Day can be celebrated for days beyond the 4th of July. It can be any day. It can be every day.

I looked up at the sky from the band shell. I think I was in warrior pose. The white clouds were striated. The blue sky was almost too blue. I started to cry. I have no idea why. The beauty of the sky does that to me sometimes. I cry during church when the choir sings too. I don’t know why. I am an intellectual. There are times when yoga, a cloud or music sneaks past my intellect and makes a direct hit for my heart. Or maybe it’s my soul.

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Downward Dog

I have no idea why I love Downward Dog — or it’s official name, Adho Mukha Svanasana.

It is just such a welcome break from more difficult stretches and twists in my Iyengar practice. I have come to love Downward Facing Dog almost as much as Savasana (the Corpse) Pose — my absolute favorite.

When we return to Downward Dog, it is like my body has met an old friend, an old comfortable dog. The pose is almost as good as a lounge chair on a beach in Akumal, Mexico.

It is familiar. My feet flat on the floor, my head in line with my arms. I can find myself in that space easily. I do it well.

I also feel — and I have no proof of this — that my waist is actively shrinking when I am in Downward Dog. Something about this pose makes me feel, “Ah, this is good. I like yoga. I like my body and what it does.”

It is a healthy feeling; I am doing good. Like eating a huge, yummy spinach salad for lunch instead of a cheeseburger.

I have been entering Downward Dog since I was in Seventh grade and took yoga at the Park Ridge YMCA, which is now the Park Ridge Community Center in suburban Chicago. That was 35 years ago.

I have always loved this pose, too, because of its silly name. For the life of me, I cannot see how this pose has anything to do with a down dog. What does a down dog look like any way? Ah well, I love the alliteration of Down Dog. Just go with it.

And I love coming out of this pose because I know Child Pose is coming along somewhere soon. Yes, Child Pose is down the road from Down Dog Pose. Ah, Child Pose, another old and beloved friend.

I have a lot of stress in my life — sick husband, three school-age kids, full time job. But there is something about Down Dog that makes me feel, I am up to the tasks of this crazy life.

There are many things I cannot control in my life. Many things I do badly, many cakes I only half-bake. But not Down Dog. That, I can do. And do well. And as I enter, rest in, and exit this pose, I am at one and the same time, resting and striving. It is a good place to be.