Written by Kimberly Jordan Allen
The other day at the end of a vinyasa yoga class I did my usual thing of plopping down and gearing up for Savasana with no blanket or sweater to get warm and cozy. Being in a large, chilly room, I knew that I might need extra warmth but paid no mind. The teacher, Andrew, prompted us to "Take this time to allow the hard work to land, and nurture your self in resting pose." Upon hitting the deck and doing my utmost to actually get comfortable -- doing a brief body scan to relax myself -- I lay there wondering why my need to be self-sufficient had, yet again, left me bare-skinned and frigid, trying to relax my shivering bones into corpse pose.
Being somewhat small in stature, and a good-natured vata/pitta, my tendency is to be high energy and cold most of the time. Andrew started to walk around the room, his soothing voice gently guiding the group into a restful state, and asked anyone who might want a blanket to raise their hand. I pondered his offer and observed myself as I refused to raise my hand, even though I was chilly and unable to settle comfortably into Savasana.
My mind was racing: I always do this, I thought. I thwart an opportunity for help to maintain my self-sufficiency, but at the end of the day, I'm lying in Savasana, freezing and tense. This is not conducive to relaxing and allowing the effects of the class to sink in. I wonder what it is about me that refuses assistance? I giggled a bit as I contemplated this aspect of my character.
After about 30 seconds of inhaling and exhaling into my dirgha pranayama and attempting to let go and relax my body, I felt a light, warm breeze sweep over me. A blanket brushed slowly overhead and started to land on me gingerly. I realized that Andrew, with no prompting, had somehow channeled my subtle yogic anguish and decided that, although I didn't raise my hand, I needed a blanket anyway. He spread the blanket over my body and gently folded the top of it under my chin. Within a moment, I was warm and comfortable, and quite moved by the gesture. This is yoga, I realized. The entire process of witnessing, accepting, and then being offered solace in my practice evoked a greater wisdom for me.
Eyes closed, I offered a huge smile in gratitude. I allowed my body to release and I felt enveloped by warmth that went beyond the physical. I was overcome by an awareness of interconnectedness and a sense of community, and I realized that delicate tears were welling in the corner of my eyes. The wisdom in self-awareness, in participating in a community -- a greater whole -- of being willing to accept help, permeated my being.
Yes, I'm a cheese ball, the type who might cry at a dog food commercial or swerve into oncoming traffic when a chipmunk darts into the road, but there is something deeply inspiring about one human being caring for another, even in the subtlest of ways.
As I rested, I thought about what Andrew had said -- how we must take the time to practice self-care -- and how I must allow the effort of being a stubborn, self-sufficient yogi to dissolve into openness and surrender. This work -- on the mat, resting, in a roomful of people -- can ignite profound change. Yoga can move mountains. Sometimes all it takes is a blanket.
Kimberly is the social media editor at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. She is a writer specializing in holistic living, environmentalism, and the arts. Her work has appeared in Berkshire Magazine, E/The Environmental Magazine, Rural Intelligence, Shape, Organic Consumers Association, NY Spirit, and Beliefnet. Kimberly is also one of the founding contributors of the Eco Chick blog.
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