“Let go your thoughts.” Portia, the yoga teacher, gently suggests this a few times in the first half hour.
I try of course, even though it is ironic that it takes effort — and it really does — to let go. A thought is like a rubber raft on water, and I nudge its pliable edge. The thought floats away, yet it floats back.
About one time out of 10, I experience the state of gone thoughts. Once, my thoughts were so gone I even felt my inner state exert an almost hand-like effort, reaching for and coaxing them back. But thoughts kept floating away, slipping and shapeless.
Nine times out of 10, the most I can do is let go of my emotional attachment to what may be on my mind. This happens mostly when I’m on my back with my eyes closed. “Oh, so I’m thinking that,” I think, and I watch it like a movie without a plot. But I watch.
I have persistently wondered if I’m just not a yoga person in the mental way. Most of the time in everyday life it’s hard to look at my thoughts dispassionately.
We end yoga in sitting position, and we face the teacher. We hold our hands pressed together in front of our hearts, and our fingers point up. Portia says, “Namaste,” to each of us. In turn, we say, “Namaste,” to her.
Then it’s over.
She tidies the room for the next group as we collect our shoes and bags. Today as she wandered about, Portia said in her low and unhurried voice, “Ebb and flow, everyone. Ebb and flow.” (Before class, she had mentioned a problem with her cell phone, and I felt relief that she was of this world.)
I grinned and said, “I like ‘Ebb and flow’ so much better than ‘Be here now.'”
Uncharacteristically, she gently huffed and said more sotto voce, “Oh. We could have a long conversation about that one.” She paused; her lips pressed together. “Yeah,” she said with finality.
This felt like a connection. And maybe I am a yoga person.
Image of water plants from a February 2009 trip to the Wellesley College Greenhouses. My spring break is coming up. Time for a return visit.