yoga in the morning

I loop my body into knots in the morning, right after I wake up and gently rise in a hot pool of light pouring in from the east-facing, gauze-curtained window. I draw the curtains close against the buzzing, rumbling world, peel the powder-blue pashmina with a spray of white stars off my mat, stow the pillow in my closet, and begin salutations to the sun. There are few sounds more satisfying than this: the cracking of my spine, bending and twisting, of ligaments pulled and joints rotating as I move into each pose. There are few sensations more gratifying than feeling muscle stretching over planes and ridges of bone, or feeling the full force of my weight on my crown and forearms, or on the flat-pressed breadth of two palms as I kick my legs up, abdomen tensing, struggling to keep myself from bowling over, trusting my arms, trusting the wall, hearing my breath rush out of my lungs, my pulse throbbing just below my breastbone, between the ribs, counting softly before the inevitable slow fall—all for this end: to drop dead-tired on my sweat-strewn, storm-blue mat after practice, unraveling in a warm bath of piano notes, my mind lighting up and my body deliciously aching for the rest of the day. Every day.

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