Briefly, (very), I reflected back to having studio space, where food didn't enter the yoga room, and essential oils set the mood. I thought about polished wood floors, and walls on which prayer flags hung. I revisited twin feelings of excitement and apprehension as students entered the sacred space I had created and maintained for them. I smiled, inwardly and outwardly at the memory of sighs of contentment when people entered the studio, leaving their stress at the door.
A brilliant smile and the repetition of my name snapped me back to the moment. Waiting for me in this less than perfect space was one of my favorite students. She sat in a wheelchair, in which she had been unable to access the perfect studio. She opened her arms to me, holding me with a fierceness that many without her challenges might find socially uncomfortable. "How are you? She asked. "We missed you."(I'd been out sick the week before.) "Come, get comfortable. Let's be with Him." (A former nun, this woman is one of the most open and spiritually accepting beings I've met. Although yoga doesn't come from a Christian tradition, she views the quiet moments as time to reflect, the lively moments as time to rejoice, and tells me that she feels God's peace radiate from me as surely as I feel peace in her presence. Others have entered by now, and there are varied greetings; high fives, a few more hugs, and a sheepish wave from a woman who speaks with her eyes.
We start with some gentle stretches, as a few more join us. I smile, a spark that ignites a lighting of faces around the room. We step up the pace. More smiles. Laughter. Peace. We dance with what we can, mostly seated. For some, the dance stays in the head and neck, while others stretch and move arms or legs. Some stand to shake it. Staff move out of their comfort zones, letting go of stress and getting a little goofy. A student notices me looking particularly awkward and bursts into laughter that rings through the room. We all join her chorus.
We begin a cool down, as the music switches from Katy Perry to instrumental music and waves. A hush comes over the room, as some close their eyes, some peek out from one closed eye, and others continue to return my smiles with an open gaze. When the class has ended, there is a quick transition of the room once more, as a group enters from another activity. This time, I help move tables. As I look around, I see the sacred in the faces around me. My friend engulfs me in another of her famous embraces. "You are perfect. Just perfect. You have peace in your heart and you share it." I considered my numerous imperfections, feeling much like the lunch room turned yoga space. Then I let her words really wash over me as perfect took on a new scent. Rather than feeling squirmy, I held her tighter. "You are too." I whispered in her ear as I let go.
My feet were light as I left the room to calls of "see you next time". Perfect.