How is it you’re still standing?
I’m grateful for this question, for the care and concern that it shows. And more than one person has asked it of me this week, which suggests that their care and concern arise from the most obvious point: I’m exhausted. Adrenaline is a wonderful friend and with its colleagues, caffeine and chocolate, it is getting me through. But the real reason I’m still standing isn’t vices. Because even if I am opening a business this week, and even if there are truly a thousand million fragments in my brain, each one demanding attention, and even if I have been up at five and asleep after midnight every night for what feels like months, I have tools, resources, and the most amazing support system ever.
Radiant Om Yoga (tee em, el, el, see) opened for classes on Wednesday (yippee!), one day after the new moon. That makes this post officially three days late, exactly the same number of days late I was in attending to my children’s weekend laundry. During a normal week, Sunday is housekeeping—laundry, beds, homework, bills, scheduling. This week, Sunday was spent on my hands and knees, measuring and cutting the sports flooring tiles that rim the edge of the studio space. The bulk of the floor—two-foot square puzzle pieces of rubber composite, just the right thickness to cushion practicing yogis without being too squishy for Nia® dancers—was put down last Friday night by a crew of seven. We started by cleaning the subfloor, a tedious but not difficult task involving an army of brooms and mops and one vacuum cleaner. Then I placed the first tile complete with edge pieces in the southeast corner and we systematically started setting the milk chocolate tiles in place, the “wood grain” marks all going the same direction.
As the tiles filled the floor and the inky sky grew blacker outside, more than one of the people helping asked if I had an Xacto knife to cut those that needed to accommodate uneven spots in the wall, doorjambs, trim, and the columns in the center of the room. I smiled each time and said that the goal was just to get the bulk of the floor laid. The cutting would wait for the clear light of day.
And so it was that Sunday found me, T-square and carpet knife in hand, pencil tucked behind my ear, measuring twice, sometimes even three times, and cutting. I made two mistakes—and each of those tiles was repurposed and cut for another spot. Not bad considering there are more than 400 of the tiles on the floor.
It took total concentration, but eventually I got into a rhythm, thinking in negative and positive spaces. The first negative space was the space from the edge of the existing tile to the wall or column. The tile that would fill it would become positive space. The part of the tile that needed to be cut off was, to my thinking, also negative space. Maybe that makes no sense, but as I cut and moved and cut and moved, the job got more and more logical.
Unwrapping my brain from the process after the last tile was cut, the thousand million other things to do started to fill back in. I have lists and post-its and white boards and voice memos on my phone all serving to remind me of what needs doing. I have classes to teach and children to feed and laundry to do. Like any of us living in this very modern world, I am busy. This week, probably for the next month or so, I’m busier than some. It’s a good thing that I like to be busy, but just now, I’m busier than even I really enjoy.
How am I still standing? It’s mountain pose, Tadasana. Claire Dederer writes in Poser that yoga teachers say a lot about mountain pose and she wonders why. Iyengar yoga teacher Dona Holleman would answer her: because it’s important. In Centering Down, Holleman quotes: “Tadasana is the first position. If you know how to do Tadasana, you know how to do every posture that follows.” She’s completely right—Tadasana helps us come to a quiet, strong, still stance from which you can do anything that follows. Next time you are standing at the front edge of your mat in a class at Radiant Om Yoga, you’ll hear me, in my very best yoga teacher voice, say:
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. For the record, that’s about the length of a dollar bill or the span of your two fists fitted between your arches. Lift up all ten toes and bring the weight evenly into all four corners of both feet. As you set the toes down, start with the little toes on each foot, spreading the toes wide so you can see mat color in between each toe. Lift the inner ankles to keep the arches of the feet engaged. Draw your attention upward to your quadriceps, squeezing to lift the knees. Tuck the tail, drawing the low-back long and send the front ribs slightly toward the back. Shoulders on the back body, hands rotated toward the front of the room, neck long, head floaty, eyes out toward the horizon. Breathe deeply, in and out through your nose.
Standing up straight requires a lot of work. But it’s a place to begin, and a place from which I can do each next thing, the next pose, the next business decision, the next blog post, even the next … load of laundry.
A few days late for the new September moon, but with great love in my heart for each and every one that is here in cyberspace and/or on the mat with me, Namaste, Rxo