Happy-baby yoga

On Saturday morning I went to my usual  yoga class with Wendy Bramlett, who led us in exploring the Happy Baby pose. It’s called Ananda balasana, for those who practice Sanskrit as well as poses. We all lay on our backs and grasped the outsides of our feet, then rolled slowly from side to side, noticing body sensations as we went. The pose helps to open hip joints and release tension in the lower back.4960-arm_208_07

Now in a yoga class everyone focuses on her or his own experience. Eyes rarely meet; each person keeps a meditative privacy. But squished together mat to mat as we were, and rolling from side to side, suddenly I found myself facing straight into the “mat space” of my neighbors, first on my left, then on my right. And when my neighbors were also rolling toward me, it was hard to avoid eye contact.

In those brief moments of meeting, I noticed something in my neighbors I hadn’t seen before. Each face, lost in its own interior reflections, wore a sweet, undefended look. It’s as if the pose had invited us, not just to loosen tight backs, but also to drop adult guards. Each of us was finding again the fresh, curious face of a child, the freedom of a time before we learned facades of competence or care. On our backs, with our feet lolling in the air, we had become babies again, ready to meet the next moment with curiosity or joy.

In a few minutes we would rise from our mats to meet the world, adults again with adult responsibilities. But we were taking with us a memory–the feeling of living, at least for a moment, without need for defense or fortification. Could we allow that happy baby to sweeten the rest of our lives?

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