A Vicarious Home Practice with Yoga Teacher Shoshana and Friends
Can we practice, too?
Having a home yoga practice
is quite nice for these long and dark busy days. While ultimately I love going to a yoga studio, it does not always work in my world.
Practicing yoga in my home is an interesting event with quite a few participators. My puppy loves to ‘be present’ with me. During forward bends and downward facing dogs, he loves to join me by licking my cheeks and sniffing my hair. Then he gently lies down with his two paws on the front of my mat.
Kitty also begins aggressively. She likes to try and eat the yoga mat. She attacks the plastic corners with a vengeance; on her side, all four claws engaged and entranced by the corner. Soon enough, she too settles down at the front of the mat, surprisingly close to the pup.
Side by side they patiently observe my inhalation, my exhalations, and all the various movements that still keep me far from as flexible as them. Staring silently, their little ear tips move ever so slightly as they consider each pose. Face to face, I have an interesting time trying to center myself.
Isn’t having an audience for yoga an oxymoron? Aren’t I supposed to be completely comfortable? Pup is not too sure of my Warrior 2 and I can tell Kitty thinks my hips should be way more open. When their whiskers twitch, does it mean my alignment is off?
With an audience, I always seem to wish there was one more, some omnipotent being to snap photos of this humorous situation. We could be on the cover of Yoga Journal! I want photos!
Often, I disrupt my equilibrium by leaving the mat before the second side of my vinyasa. For my camera. My practice had been interrupted by the need for a fabulous photo. The one that will paint my desktop, catch me up on Facebook, and decorate my fridge forever.
But digital cameras, animal eyes, grey muzzles, and flashing lights are not optimal for the perfect photo. A brief pause from practice unfolds to a full-on camera play. Lights changing, shadows moving, and candles continuing to call me back to the mat. A dead battery generally helps this most of all and I return to my inhalation, my exhalation, and the hips I long to open just a bit more. I try to tell myself I am going to do sun salutations until I completely arrive, in the moment, in my practice, on my mat.
Not so easy with four eyes following and I relax, it’s okay, just continue anyway, enjoy. When I make my way down on the mat, Kitty rises. This is her favorite time.
On my back, I am still mid-practice, or so I think. Kitty jumps on my chest, and stretches her entire body out. Kitty yoga time: front claws just hurting the folds of my neck, tail stretching to my knees. She begins to purr loudly. The time has now turned to her comfort, her cuddling practice, her languid body balanced like a lotus flower on mine.
This makes it quite difficult to continue, but I manage to find my strap, get it around the ball of my foot, and stretch my leg to the sky, all without disrupting Kitty laying on my chest.
With precarious movements I am able to continue a bit. Hip openers to one side, it’s good practice for controlling only half my body. Back must stay flat-must remain a smooth yoga surface for furry beast. No twisting allowed, I fold my knees into baddha konasana , a reclining butterfly is the most active I could be.
Though savasana is even better and I relent to the purring kitty, the art of being still, the practice of non-movement. Eyes closed, hands unconsciously moving against velvet, the sound of unconditional love in my ears, I relax. I am centered. I have found the moment.