108

My friend Autumn is many wonderful things, but most recently, she is a yoga teacher. Last night, she co-lead a group of all-level yogis and come-as-you-are oddballs through 108 Sun Salutations. To benefit B4BC. As a celebration of strength. Just because we could.

The “heartbreakthrough” of these past months lead me there. That, and my love for Autumn. Her personal growth explosion (always, but this year especially) tossed a spark into my spirit, even as it dazzled me with its firework-brilliance. Autumn is one of a growing circle of women, rough age-peers all sending these magical sparks toward me, as they throw themselves headlong into themselves.

Women owning their stories with wild abandon have started the fire of inspiration in me: kindred spirits, perhaps; but spirit kindling, certainly.

I drove up to Bellingham last night mostly out of my love for Autumn and the light she’s putting into the world, but also as an experiment in making my own sparks. In my haste to rub two sticks together, I somehow wrote down the wrong address, and I ended up a good 15 minutes north of where I was supposed to be. I arrived at the yoga studio just as the opening meditation was starting. As I rolled my mat out, willing it to be silent, willing myself not to panic, I scanned the rows of bodies in front of me, looking for a familiar warmth. I found her easily: lilac sweater the color of my yoga mat, harvest-blonde hair perched on top of her head in two elfin coils.

Okay, baby, I said to my headspace. We’re in this together. Let’s do this thing.

I’ve never done 108 Sun Salutations. I wasn’t sure I could, but I was willing to try. That “my-friend-is-here-why-not-willing-to-try”-ness got me started. Giving up, and giving in to “I don’t know if I can do this,” and just letting it move through me carried my body through all 108.

The word transformative often tumbles out in conversations about yoga, and I mostly used to roll my eyes and whatever at the two together. But when I chose to see the split in my emotional body as growth instead of brokenness—a seed cracking open, sprout reaching up—I began to feel transformation everywhere. Yoga is proving to be no exception.

Last night, I felt transformation. I gave in to the movement, my body, and my spinning mind. I teared up, laughed out loud, danced in downward-facing dog, dripped sweat down my neck and forearms, saw the scarred-heart-shape of my uterus behind my closed eyes, saw the luminous faces of two friends in the air between my hands in extended mountain pose. One song on Autumn’s playlist was something I’d come across just that morning and had been singing all day; when I recognized the chorus, flowing through up- into down-dog, I almost cried out. Another song reminded me of someone whose humor I cherish, and I smiled with my whole body at the connection.

After years of feeling nothing, really—just “good” or “bad,” not allowing or understanding anything more defined—I got to sample a decade’s worth of emotion in a little over an hour.

The trembling in my limbs this morning as I sat down to write was no ordinary post-workout fatigue. It is the electrical fire of forward emotion.

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