I unroll my mat, flatten out the corners, and fold my legs into a seated position. My head throbs, crushed by the amount of work I must accomplish tonight. I unfold a piece of paper, flatten out the corners, and curl up in bed.
I convince myself to find a purpose and set an intention, perhaps to release frustration, to master a technique, or to strengthen my mind. I remind myself that the practice is relieving and soothing. By reflecting on the bad, I can reveal the good.
I begin my yoga flow by arching my spine up into Cat Pose then down into Cow Pose. I write the date on my paper, stretch a little, and prepare myself mentally. My energy rises as I shift into Downward Dog, and my body becomes a bridge with the mat billowing underneath. My mind forms a bridge with thoughts flowing rapidly below, blended together and in such quantity that many escape before I can capture them on paper. I am barely able to hold the weight of my body and my thoughts. I try not to collapse.
I concentrate without thinking, a seemingly impossible endeavor, yet I succeed by concentrating on the breath rather than perfecting the poses. When I write, I focus initially on telling my story without agonizing over the perfect way to write it. I push all other thoughts away because a wandering mind lacks clarity, and when my thoughts wander during yoga, my practice lacks purpose. If all else fails, if I cannot keep going, I return to the breath. I concentrate on the content before fixing the grammar.
I continue to breathe and move into the first standing position, Tadasana, the Mountain Pose. I am looming and powerful. My writing becomes stronger. I perform a Sun Salutation, stretching my arms up, opening them to the sky and falling down to touch the ground. I fall into my writing as it becomes vivacious, rapid, yet inconsistent. The sentences are choppy. My breath is scattered. Sometimes I forget to breathe altogether and confuse myself. When I rush my writing, I neglect important details and confuse the reader. I return to Child’s Pose, resting in my vulnerable state. I go back to the breath, to the message, and remember my intention.
I sink down toward my knees and shoot my legs backward, jumping down into Chaturanga Dandasana as my body forms a plank. I bend my triceps, slowly, tensely, and swoop into Upward Facing Dog. The sequence is demanding. Deliberation prevents the fall as passion ignites the strength, much like trying to write truthfully about a sensitive subject. Sometimes I force myself to try a new pose or hold one for longer, but mostly I remain comfortable. I know, however, that if I do not challenge myself, I cannot improve. When a pose seems too difficult, I remember to go back to the breath because it keeps me grounded.
As the flow continues and repeats, quickening, it becomes familiar. As my story develops, finding the words comes naturally. I look for possibilities as I flow continuously through the poses. Like Warrior I, a forward lunge with my arms raised above my head, I find balance in my writing. I am focused. Like Warrior II, where the lunge is opened up and focused on the center, I expose myself in my writing, seeking the truth and following my intention. My writing is intense, challenging, and pushes me until I am exhausted. I write courageously with purpose, like a warrior fighting for his life.
After the fight, I struggle to keep the story moving. My muscles tremble as I sit in the invisible chair of Utkatasana. I must not overexert myself otherwise my practice will suffer. I must not overthink otherwise my writing will suffer. But I must not give up.
I fold into Half Moon Pose, balancing on one leg with the other raised to the sky, unstable and vulnerable. During the writing process, I often doubt my topic or writing abilities. I feel unsure, wondering if I should start over. I seek approval, yet I prefer to write where others cannot read over my shoulder and ask questions before I have found the answers for myself. I prefer practicing yoga at home where I will not compare myself to others in a classroom. Half Moon pose, however, reminds me of the moon’s guidance through darkness, how I need a yoga instructor to adjust my positioning to avoid injury, or how I need feedback on my writing to develop an idea further. I must let myself be critiqued.
After doubting myself, I realize there is no turning back. I enter Tree Pose, rooting one foot to the ground as the other foot rests on my shin to form a triangle. My best writing comes when I fall in love with an idea, as the flow becomes wild and fervent like a fox chasing a rabbit through the forest.
I keep flowing, keep writing. I stand strong, like Salamba Sirsasana, Supported Headstand, which took months to achieve. I practiced in stages, learning how to cushion my head with my hands, concentrating on balance, and maintaining focus. Eventually I will stand on my head without swaying, or move my hands to the sides of my head instead of underneath, but only if I keep practicing. I must write frequently, always striving to compose a better piece than the last. Improvement is infinite.
As I come to the end of my practice, I rest in Pigeon Pose, an uncomfortable but satisfying hip opener. A good pain. My darkest feelings have been uncovered, but I must dig deeper as I revise, even if it is uncomfortable. There will always be tautness.
I lie on my back and twist one leg over to the side to stretch out my muscles before they fully relax. I iron out the kinks in my writing before I conclude. As I collapse into Savasana, Corpse Pose, my muscles loosen. The warrior relaxes. I think nothing. I write nothing.
After five minutes, I begin to wiggle my toes and fingers as I arouse myself from the stillness. My head begins to throb from the thoughts that ailed me before I began my practice. After I finish writing, I worry that there is more I can say, so I read it over and over until words lose their meaning.
Only at the end of my yoga practice, when I say Namaste and bow to the ground, am I grateful for what I have accomplished. Only after I submit my paper or close my journal do I reflect on what the process has taught me. The end always feels pleasantly unfamiliar because a single yoga session, with its vast styles and poses, will never be repeated, just as the writing process and its creation will never be duplicated. I bow my head and give thanks for the practice and the process. I continue to flow.