Private Moonlit Yoga Studio & Lessons: Priceless
November 23, 2020
Everything is on the internet. My father taught me that. If you can wade through the disinformation, you can just about Ecosia (not Google) anything. Supplementing it with real-world advice from friends and experts is good. The reason you can learn everything and anything on the internet, is that the internet is just a virtual echo of us.
I’ve tried to do yoga in the past, and it just didn’t work. I would open my eyes and peak at the others around me. I can’t exercise in a group. I just can’t. This is why I’ve always been a solo runner and a solo beach cleaner. If I do group workout sessions or group litter-picking sessions, I don’t feel restored. Fundamentally being with others depletes my energy. I’d rather be alone. I’m fundamentally an introvert. This is the polar opposite to my younger sister. This all makes sense now. I blog in the early morning and in the silence of my kitchen. She started a podcast at her kitchen table chatting with her neighbor, and is rejuvenated from this.
Through the meandering process of living through a quarantine Sunday, I discovered that I can and loved doing my first real session of yoga – by myself, on my private roofdeck, under the early moon, and after really listening to the young yoga instructor and listening to my feet and working out some soreness by lifting my toes in one of the poses – I realize that I’m on the next part of my life-journey.
The meandering journey to my first yoga session and now completely refreshed this morning after sleeping well through two whole REM cycles, was very similar to the process of how I planted my first small handful of microgreens.
What are microgreens? It think it’s a made-up term. I had never hard this before and suddenly on my Instagram and Facebook feed, there were Ads after Ads of microgreen sets that you could buy for $50. I’m always suspcious of anyone trying to sell me anything when I get repeated Ads. There must be a catch. Microgreen sets are essentially Chia Pets (you remember those from the 1980s and 1990s right?). I watched some YouTube Videos on microgreens, and how to do it with some papertowels. I thought it was a dismal failure. I just used the flax and chia seeds I already have in our pantry. I dumped the soil into a repurposed shallow plastic bin that I’m now using as a succulent nursery. But then weeks after they were supposed to grow, these little sprouts started popping up. I harvested them yesterday and had them with a half sandwhich.
My roofdeck yoga journey is similar. I had tried yoga in the past but the group setting and the inability for me to quiet my mind, now I know that was the barrier. I had gone on a long litter-picking session up the hill to where Mt. Soledad intersects with Beryl. There is an area of barren earth there and filled with plastic litter. I had cleaned there twice and spread wildflower seeds over two months ago. I went to check on the area, and there were no wildflowers yet but there were young blades of grass that were a beautiful celedon green emerging from the earth riddled with gopher holes. On the trek up to that barren spot, I have to walk very far and hike up a steep hill. I found a pair of expensive skater shorts on the road which had probably been there for months. I did bring them home and launder them, and even tried to handwash the oil stains out. But they are still slightly stained and Mr. Plastic Picker won’t wear them. They will be donated to Goodwill likely for the material. By the time I had reached that area of barren earth, I was hot and got more sun than I expected. I scattered some dandelions I had collected on the hike up there and posted it on Instagram.
I’m glad I cleaned that area. It’s harder to get to and I just wandered over there, not having planned to go street cleaning that far. But when I got home and later that afternoon, I realized my feet were acting up again. I have been a runner now for 30 years. 30 years of wear and tear on the feet and knees. I had begun jogging down the alleywalls in the dirt surface this last week. My ankles were okay. But my feet, which have been okay, had just started having twinges again. I was a runner in the truest sense. My identity was as a runner. I liked how my body felt running. I liked how my world view was as a runner, scenery whizzing past and me getting to a state of euphoria when you had gone past that point when you hit that runners high. And then the state of exhaustion afterwards. The world made sense and my life made sense when I was able to run.
But just like that, I had starting running a bit the last few weeks. My body has been healed by the beach walks over the last year. But my feet felt twinges after a few runs and I knew it was time, it was time to give it up. And with that decision that was not deliberate, but just a meandering thought process through the day – I realized all the pieces had been there.
I had been listening to colleagues more, and one of the young pediatricians had given me some advice about yoga. I had completed a silly fun upcycle project and turned Mr. Plastic Picker’s Starbuck’s coffee cups into planters. One has onions and one has a succulent. I hot glue gunned the non-recycleable cups to the lids. One is artistically tilted like the learning tower of Pisa. The other rests on a Panera mac and cheese lid. The funny thing is Mr. Plastic Picker brought home ANOTHER Starbucks cup and when I showed him my projects, he said “I guess I won’t buy as many.” Which is the entire point on the project. LOL
And then I cleaned up the house a bit, and started throwing out some of the older trash-art projects that were going nowhere. This includes remnants of the rooftop container garden I started. It’s just too hot up on the roofdeck midday for plants. Most of my container gardening project (which is going really well!) is in the cooler outside stairwell that leads to the roofdeck, and actually on the concrete pad in the backyard transformed since we sold our minivan.
But while I was cleaning up on the roofdeck I realized that I can see the sky and the moon up there in peace. I had heard from Dr. Craig Canapari about the benefits of moonlight exposure for sleep rhythms. From random Ecosia search on healthline “In Ayurvedic medicine, moonlight is believed to help heal and soothe the body. The moon gently energizes, in contrast with the sun’s sharp brightness. Moonlight exposure is thought to also relieve anxiety and stress and improve relaxation by prompting the natural release of melatonin. Ayurveda holds that moonbathing (or moon gazing) may have particular benefit for females, since the moon is thought to help increase fertility and lead to more regular menstrual cycles. Other suggested benefits include: improved concentration, better sleep, stronger sense of intuition.” https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/moon-gazing#myths-about-moon-gazing
And so on my roofdeck that I don’t visit enough and that is empty. I realized that that I had all the bits and peaces all along- but it wasn’t the right time before. But last night, I traveled up onto our roofdeck and in it’s empty space which I had initially planned to fill with various imagined spaces – I just filled it with myself. I propped an old laptop on top of a cleaned plastic Mike Bloomberg Campaign Sign I had saved from a neighbors yard. It’s perfect as a clean perch for my computer and an older water bottle. I took Mr. Plastic Picker’s two yoga mats and laid them down parallel to the coastline. I looked over our beautiful world and noticed the blue sky, the young evening half moon, and the deep red leaves of the tall Japanese maple across the street. It’s autumn and the leaves tell us that it’s autumn. And I put a YouTube Beginners Yoga video on and turned it to low volume and followed along.
I get it now. I’m trying to listen to my body, listen to the earth, and listen to the instructor on YouTube at the same time. I sipped my water, and tried to get into the position that feels right for me. Downward dog was hard. Warrior Pose I felt a sense of rightness. But it’s when I lifted my toes in one pose, and the instructor said feel the 4 corners of your foot planted firmly on the ground. And that’s when I knew, this is good for my feet. My aching feet that I had been trying to heal with better shoes and that were starting to ache again. My poor right foot. This stance felt good. And after finishing the short video, and stretching in the quiet of the roofdeck that we’ve had since we built the house years ago and realizing a sense of peace as the world became dark – I realized at the moment I had taken the next step.
I won’t tell anyone I’m a runner anymore. I can run, but I can give that identity up now. I hadn’t realized how I had clung to it. I’m not going to tell people I’m into yoga either. I’m just me. Stretching my feet, trying to center by heart above my center and center my pelvis above my feet. I slept so well last night. Two cycles of REM and had Mr. Plastic Picker put my iPhone and Instagram far away so that I couldn’t reach my phone. And I slept.
And then I’m up again this morning, excited to try to live this next day. I hope I will have time this week to go up onto the roofdeck a few times to see the sky and the moon.