The practice of yoga is so much more meaningful, deeper, and sometimes easier, when we do it for something bigger. When we do it for a bigger purpose. When we do it for Love.
The pose can be so much lighter, held so much longer, with so much less effort, when we hold the image of someone we love, someone who needs a little extra something. When we do it not for ourselves, not to be able to say we did a certain pose. But for Love.
As we were setting up for backbend Saturday morning, Laura reminded us of this. She had started the class talking about using love to transmute hate, drawing on the news of the tragedy in Norway on Friday, expressing love for the victims, finding love for the perpetrator. Her theme was the alchemy we can work when we respond with love, when we push away the inclination to hate and go with love instead. So much more than just the repetition and refinement of various physical poses, really yoga is a profound practice of Love, right, always coming back to truly seeing the self, loving the self, truly seeing others, loving others.
And so Laura said these words, as we rested on our heads on our way into backbend, to remind us to go big, to make it about something more than just the pose:
Do it for your greatest love
Do it for your dog
Which is how I found myself in a deep backbend with tears streaming into my ears, soaking my mat, filled with love for my dear, my sweet, my now-four-months-gone Jasper. I didn't hear a single word really after "dog," although I think Laura did say "cat" and "beloved." I was un-done, waterworks set to the On position from that point through savasana, all the way home and even now.
In truth I'd already cried before class. I saw a cute brindle dog trotting alongside his person along Bridgeway in Sausalito, and the full sorrow of a life without my buddy opened up for me again. I sat in the car, parked in front of the studio, and sobbed, Blackbird by The Beatles playing on the radio. So maudlin, right? But it's like I said to Joe the other day: Jasper was my best friend. He just happened to be a dog. He cannot be replaced. He's gone, and I miss him so much.
Is it wrong that Jasper was perhaps my greatest love? I haven't yet lost in my life a person who was really close, really dear, so I don't know how much more pain, if there is more, is possible. All I know is that the missing of Jasper doesn't go away, the deep longing to see his face, smell his fur, feel his strong little body with my hands, just never goes away.
So I'll use it, I'll transmute this great grief into whatever I can. I'll keep on missing Jasper and loving him so much, and give him my backbends, my bound arda-chandrasanas, my everything.