I Am a Very Small Animal
I was the Tennessee Titans yoga teacher. Defensive End Kevin Carter was one of my dear students. I got to spend some one on one time with him and I shared a secret born of Pokémon.
In Pokémon; a cartoon I watched with my children, the animals had special powers that shared their names and they would command them to service that could save the day in dire situations.
The Titans thought I had superpowers. My longtime Running Back client, Eddie George was quoted in the papers saying I was stronger than most of the guys on the team. Of course that wasn’t true but I knew what I had to harness for dire situations which is what I would consider many of the postures I had to demonstrate to teach. As Winnie the Pooh’s friend Piglet once described himself; I am a very small animal.
I used my mind to fire muscles. Glute power; ON! Ankle power; GO! That’s how the Pokémons did it and it worked. When I had to perform on the 40 yard line before 50 men and their coaches and news cameras I didn’t have time to wobble. It wasn’t my yoga, just a picture for the others.
I watch the show Sunday Morning. A confessed multi-tasker, I do my Sunday practice watching that show because I have three hours before I go to work and six hours of stuff I want to accomplish. And I love that show because it’s information about wonderful things that people do instead of the context of contending news shows that assure me what a bunch of assholes we are.
There was a segment on sharing. People are sharing their homes, their cars, and their stuff. It’s making it easier on everyone. It’s good for the economy. It works. I’m reminded of an initiative in my son’s town of Seattle where people are growing free food for anyone to pick. Sharing is not the game for those playing survival of the fittest. It’s the game for people who know that the fittest don’t survive, we all survive and we all survive to thrive when we work as nature does, for the greatest good for the web.
I’m in tree pose. I imagine I can feel all 26 bones in my left foot arguing over turf. I think of sharing. My hip is hurt and the rest of me is trying to share the job of the hip but damn it hip it’s time to step up. The others can’t do it and the adductor is starting to get pissed off and snap at the Iliopsoas which will surely be the destruction of all.
So I turn on some muscular action with my mind and attend to my breath. I should have put that oxygen mask on first before saving the others but I was preoccupied with a bit of an impending crisis. Hands to the sky inviting prana, I notice an impediment. I’m doing my damndest to save all that I can and I can’t get a proper breath out. The quality of the last exhalation will set me up for the next breath, some might say, the next life. Without that I am lost and all systems will fail.
How many folks devote, share, themselves for the good of the whole without noticing their own breath. Divine people die of awful diseases and others wonder how someone so good, so pure, so generous could be taken if there is karma. Could it be that our intention behind the exhale will be the quality we ensure for the next breath and without attention to that we are unwittingly dying without noticing? Did we abandon ourselves inadvertently?
I am in the mind of the winds of the breath as described in the Upanishads and later refined by Ayurveda because I just did a study on it. Maybe I’m overreaching. Forgive me. But also take a lesson from it if you want to because I’m offering one from experience. Generosity and love only go so far when you are neglecting yourself. If you want to share yourself with the world remember to allow the world to enter you as prana; as life force which moves everything and pay attention to how you manage that in your own universe of flesh, bone and mind. I am still here but somehow I imagine my last breath as one who has not paid due homage and I do not sense an easy end.
It’s what I have to share today. With love and humility, Hilary