I am blissing out at water yoga. There are just a few of us in class this day and things are particularly peaceful, the water heavenly warm, cradling me, taking me at once inside myself and outside myself, or more accurately outside my “life.” Wouldn’t it be something if this could be my life, instead, this peace, no phones, no computers, no demands, as my teacher would say, “nowhere to be, no one to be.”
I become a kinder, gentler person here. Moving slowly through poses that induce a deep, deep relaxation. Inhaling, exhaling, following my breath--as I expand my chest, I expand my heart, just as surely. Here in this house of compassion, this pool of compassion.
Perhaps the cold-hearted and hot-headed dictators of the world need to take a dip, I muse almost sleepily. No way everyone could do yoga like this and still do evil, is there?
We move to the shallow end of the pool for some of our standing poses, warrior poses, and we become women peace warriors, torsos erect, arms out on a flat plane, and we bend one knee and stretch into our peaceful power, fierce but graceful.
Every week we are as diverse a bunch as you can find, but today in particular this pool is like, well, a melting pot, or perhaps a rich stew, of abilities, of nationalities, of ages.
A new student who is blind learns to trust the water and the teacher and the foam noodle that supports her, and her daughter offers her some coaching while moving through the poses herself. Before class starts they circle around the interior of the small pool so she can feel its kidney shape.
Another woman with a hairline fracture on her foot sits in a chair on the apron of the pool, doing poses as best she can from her seated position.
Yet another woman on crutches arrives as class is nearly over, having gotten our new schedule mixed up. Our teacher welcomes her; we wait for her to make her way in and join us for the final floating relaxation exercise, so she doesn’t miss this very special time entirely. This place has its own personality, created by those who host it and those who find their way to it. Expansive always, compassionate always.
Our teacher herself lopes alongside as we go through our exercises, unable to come in because her arm is in a cast, but still casting her calming presence.
The water yoga is a home to all. People come sometimes for just one class, sometimes for a few on an extended visit from overseas, joining those of us who are local and who try and come every week. We have students speaking many languages; sometimes we have simultaneous Croatian to Italian to English interpretation and back around again. Other times it’s English to Hindi, or Spanish or French. We welcome men, too, but it’s been a while since a Y chromosome has been in the class, and we’ve settled into a circle of women.
I look back and laugh, remembering my arrival at my first class here. I’d left chaos at work, the traffic was a nightmare and I was late. I blew in the door grumpy, having decided there was no way I was going to do this again, for how crazy was it to become wildly stressed in order to attend something I came to for de-stressing? I almost hadn’t come in, as I was close to tears and the world felt like it was spinning out of control. And then I stepped into the water, and before an hour had passed I was hooked. Week after week, year after year, I step in and shed my cares, some weeks with greater difficulty than others, but that’s part of the practice, too, as much as the stretching and the breathing.