Detail: The Bed, Henri Toulouse Lautrec
Bodies and Voices
Poet in residence
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
Because I’ve been sick for over a week, the main yoga I’ve been doing consists of two asanas: Corpse pose, not so surprisingly, which I have to say I’ve gotten extremely good at holding for long stretches, trying to breathe evenly and relaxed so that my mind won’t be run over by a tide of feverish hallucinations; and supta baddhakonanasa as I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.
Yet while I’m not downward dogging it or half-mooning myself to the kind of yogic openness of chest and back that I love, I am practicing yoga in another way, or maybe it’s more accurate to say I’m practicing being sick a new way: as if it’s yoga.
The wee small hours of thank you
There’s nothing like an illness with its waves of chills and fever, headaches and strange appetites, exhaustion and inability to sleep through all of it, odd turns into being sicker and sudden bursts of energy that rise quickly and then dissipate to really find the edge of living in our bodies at this moment.
There’s also nothing like that quick awakeness that can overtake us when we start to get truly well again, which unfortunately often arrives on my doorstep about 2 a.m.
My body nudges me awake, singing, “I feel good” in its James Brown gotta-move voice. There I am, telling James Brown it’s important to get at least eight hours sleep before crossing the line between sickness and health that begins early tomorrow morning when it’s time to go to work. No matter, James Brown wants to dance a little and then doze, maybe in corpse pose again, but surely not for too long.
Easing back, one nap and one dog at a time
In any case, however obnoxiously loud the volume is in my body at times, here’s another opportunity to meet who I am with curiosity and compassion, to listen and watch, and to remind my judging and freaking-out tiny inner tyrant that there will be naps and coffee to be had tomorrow if necessary.
Then it’s the day after the illness ends when I get to experience being a body another way: creaking into downward dog (was it always this hard? why does gravity feel like it’s twice as strong?) and plank, finding myself ready to collapse like a thick snake in the sun after just one sun salutation.
Yet it’s the same answer: an image of the beautiful earth, a tiny bright red arrow, and a message flashing in neon, “Yes, you are here.” So be here.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.