I follow a blogger on tumblr who posts her handstands everyday. She has a series of 365 days of handstands. The first thing I thought when I found her blog and photo series, was wow that’s quite the commitment, and then I thought wow she can actually do a handstand and look graceful doing it AND hold it long enough to take a photograph. I recently started a 30 day yoga challenge. For 30 days, I’ll receive emails with 20 minute yoga videos attached, which is just dandy. Today I did my video then explored the online yoga world for another hour or so, trying out various poses, wishing I could actually do them. I realized something after I filmed my wheel pose just to see where I was at: I’m pretty weak and inflexible. It got me thinking. How could I improve not only my ability but also my dedication? I could try to practice a pose everyday for a certain number of days. It didn’t have to be 365, it could be 100 or 75 or even 50.
For 50 days I will practice a pose or two, let’s see if I can actually make my goal. I think I’ll practice wheel, (since wow that was embarrassing to see how bad I was) crow and/or standing fold. And on the 51st day hopefully I’ll be able to say that I’ve improved and grown.
Gosh I hope I stick with it!
In October 2013, my grandmother died. She was a wonderful woman, she was kind, selfless, and strong. I didn’t know her as well as I wanted to, and I feel guilty about that nearly everyday. I thought that I had more time left, that I could leave getting close to her to when I was an adult. Her death was a bit of a wake up call, for me and my entire family. I’ve experienced death before, and death of all kinds, suicide, cancer, heart attacks. All were horrible, but my grandmother’s cause of death sticks to me, and will for a long time. My grandmother was a very independent woman. She was also extremely active for an 84 year old, practicing yoga, hiking, biking and many other physical activities. We even switched bikes with each other a few years back. But she was a contradiction in her physical health. She was active, but she struggled with severe scoliosis. She was also the oldest anorexia survivor in Mayo Clinic history, well, documented at least. She has an interview in a book somewhere, I really want to read it. Anyways, since she was so independent, when she fell, she didn’t want to make a big deal of it. Well, ignoring it was detrimental, and her health declined rapidly in 2013. Except it wasn’t rapid, it came quickly but slowly and she was aware of every moment of it. She would become frustrated in the forgetfulness that her receding health brought, but even more frustrated with the dependency she developed. Everyone had to help her do everything. And that devastated her. Her death was horrible in it’s slowness, in the way she knew she would never be the same as she once was, and in the pain she felt. She just wanted to be comfortable in the end. I remember visiting her in the hospital. I remember seeing dried tears on every one of my family members faces. I remember seeing my grandfather with both his hands clamped tight around her bony and tiny left hand, as she lied there drifting between brief moments of relief and excruciating periods of thrashing and mumbling incoherently. I remember shaking, and silently wondering why, and how unfair it all was. And selfishly I remember losing 6 pounds in a week due to the stress of school and the uncomfortable lack of my father’s presence who spent all his time at the hospital or at my grandfather’s. I remember watching my father age ten years in ten weeks. But I also remember the smile my grandma had on her face when she saw me and my sister visit her, and the nurse and my parents remarking how we had gotten her to smile so big.
I miss her still. I think about her death still. But in December of 2013 something wonderful happened. I started a yoga practice. As I said before my grandmother practiced yoga often, and my practice helps me feel closer to her. Yesterday I held my first crow pose. It was for a very short second but I was off the ground. I was holding my entire body up with my hands. It was magical and exciting and I thought of my grandmother. I, of course, had rushed downstairs to tell my mom that I had attempt and sort of succeeded at my first arm balance, and she told me that it was impressive but then she said, “I bet grandma Dorothy would be proud of you, she’s happy someone in this family starting doing yoga.” And I really hope that’s true. I have this silly little theory that she passed her love of yoga on to me, since it was around her death I got my interest and only two months later I started. So I want to thank her, it’s one of the most amazing parts of my life at the moment and I’m exciting to see where the practice takes me.
As for my grandmother, I miss her, and my family does too. This is the first time I’ve been able to put my thoughts down about her. I hope she’s having an adventure wherever she is.