Tidal Basin

Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stilling to a stop. Now my yoga begins. Who knew?

I have been wallowing in a sticky place for too long. I received my Yoga Journal in the mail today-- my own, self-addressed recipe for depression. Look how I’ve become such a raw nerve stretching out into the world. Events in my life have caused me to deepen my yoga practice without movement. That almost sounds appealing. But still. Still… the glowing skin, the thick long hair, the short, cute cuts, the organic riding boots, the avocado mango salsa, the smiles, the couples who have found love through yoga. These all are parts of me that haven’t happened yet or maybe never will. But everyday, I can honestly say, I am in love. The object of my love, the origin of my love, is not human. I have been practicing yoga for 17 years, so what, and I have been practicing yoga all of my life. Haven't we all? Six years ago, I packed my things into the Volvo and drove to Santa Fe to deepen my practice. Now, if that doesn’t sound like Yoga Journal material…

In the desert, I did deepen my practice. I can’t go into it now because, like any hole dug deeply and with intention, the strata hold too many stories to tell. I do know this: I didn’t slow down enough to feel my practice. And my life, unfolding upon my insistence, glanced off my hot skin and did not penetrate. I wonder now if I thought that was Liberty. Eventually, I burned through layers of what held me back, only to find my body slow itself, then break, then still itself; no movement. The place I now inhabit does not bend, stretch, or fold. The place that has no pain has no postures. This place is where the yoga now begins.

I sit with my breath and my mantra each morning. My dog patiently waits for his walk. I can hear him sighing. He hates the flame as it catches and burns the camphor. He hates the camphor’s smoke as it burns in his nostrils. He can’t wait to be outdoors chasing squirrels. I sit. Shiva is the last thing I see before I close my eyes; then, anything is possible. I course through conversations, lists, and dreams. A line for my novel arrives. It will wait if it means business. I coax my mind back to the mantra. I think of paint colors. The mantra. I feel it burn a path inside my body that distinguishes it from the fantasy I am having about true love. I follow its crooking finger and its gentle whisper until I am around the bend, and for a second, I am nothing.

I wake up. My shoulders hurt. I tell myself that this is where the path begins. I tell myself all I’ve been preparing  for is now. I tell myself if I am to be of service to others, I must understand the movement I long for in my stillness is the doorway I have been looking for all along. And still…

I admire those who know that pain is free fuel. By writing this, I have skimmed the surface of what I really want to say. I wonder if I will be brave enough to try again. I wonder, breathe in, if I will in-spire: take spirit inside; breathe out: let spirit leave, and make room for a different kind of flight.


  1. Your writing on pain is a gift to me, Sarah. I love you.

  2. Sweet friend, I love you, too. I am glad the words are healing. It's the best we can hope for. Just like your jewels. xo