I was in a yoga class about 8 years ago and one of the regulars in that class was an older gentleman, gray hair, maybe in his 70's. He didn't know it yet but I adored him. I adored his desire to stick with it and I was so proud of him everyday. I am pretty sure he had Parkinson's because his hands would shake. When he attempted doing side angle pose (the pose pictured above) I have a vivid memory of his stance being very narrow. He would open his stance as much as he was allowed, bend just a little bit and turn his body open to the side. He would try to put one arm in the air and one by his leg, but his arms, while extended, would actually be closer to the center of his body and while he held the pose his hands shook. He held and breathed into the pose just like the rest of us, but he shook.
SO, I'm not Einstien, but I bet that many of us who are not very flexible and had hands that shook, and probably shook more intensely as we extend them away from our body, might shy away from being in a yoga class setting. Not this guy. And this is why I adored him. He knew he was there to be present with himself and to gain what he could from yoga. I also appreciated the energy and focus that he would bring to class and share with all of us.
Time passed and about two months later my mat was next to his for our practice. I noticed that his final expression of this pose, side angle, for whatever reason that is the pose that sticks out in my mind the most. The final expression for him of this pose was incredible. He was in this beautiful lunge, lifting from his core and his arms, one fully extended to the sky and the other one truly by his leg. They still shook. And he still held the pose and breathed into it. And while he did my insides leapt! I was so impressed that he was gaining so much progress and that he did not shy away from practice.
After practice that day I gave him a hug and told him how proud of him that I was. He could have said, "I'm not flexible enough to go to yoga." I wish I could interview him today. I wish he could tell us his thoughts and journey with yoga. He probably would have some great insight.
I am grateful for every person who walks in the doors of the class that brings good energy and focus. I practice at home enough to appreciate the energy in a class and it is a beautiful thing, no matter what you can and can't do. Essentially we are all doing the same thing aren't we? Moving and breathing, being aware of our bodies, checking our thoughts at the door, yes we are all doing the same thing no matter how it looks, This is one reason I love yoga.