Yoga Fish

In the last week I’ve returned to practicing yoga. I encountered its beneficial stimulation and powerful help in staying limber years ago in Costa Mesa. My then boyfriend, George R. Cox, an Aquarius with a touch of  Virgo, signed us up for yoga classes led by a guru instructor who taught us in a little store front space.

That guru dude was radiant, obviously high as a kite on his own meditative and yogic practices.

I really liked the experience. It felt great and I learned interesting things.

 We were taught by the guru’s athletic young yogi helpers that we should never sit with out feet facing the guru. Our energy shot out through the bottoms of our feet and this was disturbing to the guru.

It was a good thing to bring flowers to the guru. Yes it was. The flowers were beautiful and their scent was enchanting.

As I sat at my yoga practice this morning, outside on the grass with the sun peeping up over the tall hedges

I invented a mantra — I am a flower with a lotus heart and a diamond mind.

What is more beautiful than flowers turning their faces toward the sun?

I turn my heart toward the light. I stretch and melt and float and breathe into the yoga positions, deeper and deeper and let me tell you, what a great reward for the tiniest effort.

Energy flows through my tired old body, freshening up all the molecules. I absolutely must confess that yoga gets one high while removing, slowly but surely the killing stiffness that rob our vital forces.

From page 55 of Yoga for Dummies:

“The Sanskrit word for relaxation is shaithilya, which is pronounced shy-theel-yah and means “loosening.” It refers to loosening of bodily and mental tension — all the knots you tie when you don’t go with the flow of life. These knots are the kinks in a hose, which the water from flowing freely. Keeping muscles in a constant alert state expends a great amount of your energy, which then is unavailable when your muscles are called upon to really function. Conscious relaxation trains your muscles to relax their grip when you don’t use them. This relaxation keeps the muscles responsive to the signals from your brain telling them to contract so that you can perform all the countless tasks of a busy day.”

Free flowing energy vs. contraction/stiffness —> death. Okay.

Back in the Costa Mesa storefront yoga space there were trinkets to purchase. They were just little things — beads and neck charms, scarves — and they seemed so invitingly exotic. Pieces of India, products from that part of the world that has always seemed familiar  to me.

I bought an om symbol carved from sandalwood. It smelled so great. It made me remember all the great feelings from my yoga sessions.

Most of the yoga class focused on how to do a simple routine of beginner yoga moves. It was gentle but effective.

I was in my 20s so I always felt great anyway. It was harder, then, to feel its physical effects. All these years later it’s much easier to feel the improvements.

I did yoga during my first pregnancy, in the first few months. Once I had them  I was very busy. I’m was a full-time mom, hands on, no babysitters, no nannies.

As an infant my son Brian slept very little. Instead of yoga I relaxed with kid’s programs. All day PBS TV viewing was kind of  like yoga very relaxing,a visual aural mellowing agent, an inducer of kinder gentler thoughts. You have to stick to the good stuff though — Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow — I think you can get a crappy, bad trip from Barney.

Other lifestyle changes gave me an excuse to wake, drink a bowl of  Italian roast and run my mind and body all day (college) with little spirit backup. In place of yoga I had a regular diet of cinema to consume but I chose to put myself under enormous amounts of stress.

To get the kinks out I’d occasionally sneak in a couple of easy and essential-for-me yoga positions but mostly I operated on nervous energy.

This period of forced forward movement caused me to have a recurring dream. I would walk by a fish bowl and notice or know that the fish were suffocating. I’d realize in the dream that I needed to give the fish some fresh water. The good part was that as soon as I did, even just a glass of water poured into the bowl, the fish revived. This seemed to be symbolic of forgetting to take time to feed my spirit.

 At the University of Iowa I had lots of bad weather, poor nutrition, marital stress and academic demands while trying to raise my young children. By the time I got to the University of New Mexico I managed to find healing practices. We had a great apartment in student housing, great sky, great weather, the beautiful smell of the Southwest, good free food in the summers. I’d burn Tibetan rope incense and listen to Native American songs, chants, mojo on the local public radio station. It gave me strength to get through some insecure times and some hairy changes. Still I dreamed of suffocating fish.

One night I dreamed that my son Brian slept on his bed. The wall rising above him was actually a very large aquarium with beautiful healthy fish swimming freely. That image was so comforting.

I have had long periods of not taking the best care of myself, of not doing yoga and even though I know that when I return I feel the positive flow immediately.

Why do I ever stop?


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