Being Human: The Second Side

I lift my left leg into lunge, and pad my right knee. Pull my ankle in with my right hand.

It looks pretty - I'm sure, my left arm extending up in jnana mudra.

Just below the surface, I am running a marathon in my head: filing thoughts, obsessing about work, worrying about whether I have chosen the right path in life. My brain is sorting issues like a spinning rolodex in the stillness that I feel a compulsive need to fill.

And now my thigh is on fire and I feel crankiness creeping up into my consciousness, and annoyance that we have to hold the pose for what seems like an eternity.

I readjust and fall slightly, my hand gripping the hardwood floor as I right myself.

The jostling knocks my little thought drama towards intermission.

I breathe deeply, willing my mind to clear.

Please be quiet. Slow down. Reset.

We still have the second side to go.

-Bhagvad Gita, Photo from Kripalu hallway wall

Yoga is essentially the practice of being human.  

At some point in your journey, you find yourself on your mat, in a puddle of tears or a boiling mess of anger and realize that you have got some serious shit going on inside. And for a class or two (or thirty), you think it is just you.

And then somebody else loses it during pigeon or frog or cobra with a roll. And instinctively - your heart is there with them - a moment of knowing compassion.

We are flawed and imperfect.

We are a mix of the beautiful and the ugly.

Anger and triumph. The sweet simplicity of happiness and the soul-crushing weight of disappointment.

Bodies and minds that change, age, and evolve.

So different. So similar. 

So human.

The real goal of our practice (and our life) is that someday we will care for our own spirit with the same capacity for compassion that we have for another person.

But in the meantime, we are all lunging for the second side, willing ourselves to keep trying.