To Kara, I dedicated this practice to you…
My dear friend Kara, my friend is no longer here. Why were you taken so soon? I went outside last night and lit a candle in the final minutes of your last day here on earth. I sat in the same seats we sat in together drinking red wine when you told me cancer returned. I poured a glass for both of us and lit a candle to honor the brave, strong, courageous, kind, soft, caring and loving person you are. The flame kept blowing towards your glass. It was cool outside, but not nearly as cold as I felt inside. I sipped our wine staying close to the flame, allowing your flame to keep me warm as I remembered all of our times. I am pretty sure two nights ago when we chatted you said goodbye to me. I didn’t know it although as I look back I see it now. We were supposed to see one another this morning to share something special and to attend a yoga class to support cancer. But last night you died from cancer. How can this be? A little piece of me thought you’d still be here this morning. I woke up heavy in my heart knowing that we would not see one another today. Kara, I still went this morning because I know you wanted to go and would want me to go. I brought an extra yoga mat and set up my mat for you. I placed them in the same spot we practiced together last time. I practiced on my spare. The edge of your mat touched mine and you were there with me. I tied two pink ribbons around my wrists for you. My voice trembled as I opened class and spoke about you. I stepped onto your mat for dancer’s pose because you like that one and I saw your “Last Dance” video on Facebook this morning. It made me smile to see you dance in some of your final moments on earth. I danced for you today, Kara. As we laid in supta baddha konasana… you know….with one hand on our heart and one hand on our belly…. I struggled as I listened to the sounds of my uneven breath, feeling the beating of my heart, knowing that there was no heart beat on the mat right next to me. You know how sometimes they say “breathe for your neighbor” in yoga? Well today I did that but not in the way it’s intended to be. I gave thanks for our times together. Our final pose was supine twist. As I crossed my right leg over to the left, my arm and leg rested on your mat. I swept my hand up and down your mat only wishing I could hold your hand. I practiced for us today, Kara.
I was grateful Alain taught yoga and that I was able to open and close the class. I was able to hold myself together to practice for us and I practiced strong today, Kara. Because you were so strong. You were an inspiration living life to the fullest. You had the most positive outlook on life. You went out and did things and you explored the world. I will never forget those days you took me out to ride hills before my first big race. I read your card again today that you wrote me for that experience. You taught me so much. You were the one who knew I could do it. You inspired me, encouraged me, and cheered me on in life. You were a true friend. I wish I had told you that you were with me in my mind and heart last month while you rode over 100 miles in Tour de Pink the same day I raced. Nothing held you back. You were and are a true inspiration. The world is a darker place today although the sun is shining…just as you always shined bright. You have left this earth to rest peacefully, but the memories of our times will stay in my heart forever.
I played a song for you and closed class with a reading about savasana…
Yoga is a celebration of life. When we move our bodies through poses that make up the sequences we practice, it is a movement through life, a celebration of life. At the end of every practice though lies savasana, our final relaxation. There is no yoga without savasana. And after the celebration of life comes we lie in stillness and surrender. Why is it that savasana is the easiest pose to do and often the hardest to for so many? For a long time I felt savasana was a difficult part of yoga class. I’d find myself thinking about what I had to do that day, daydreaming of upcoming events, and so on. And then it happened. Gradually, as I took steps inward, I began to feel my mind and body welcome and move into this still neutral space. As a yoga teacher, I often notice students fidgeting (I still do it at times) during savasana. Perhaps you open and close your eyes, wondering, “What is supposed to be happening here and why am I just lying here?” This sometimes bumpy road of relaxation while being in corpse pose gives us an opportunity to become more clear and to start again.
I never really understood why some yogis refer to the practice of savasana, corpse pose, as the practice of dying. It even disturbed me at first. This morning I thought about this and how the practice of savasana is a way of resting the body while allowing unwanted elements within us melt away…or even to die, encouraging us to surrender to life. We are not trying to create an experience in savasana, only making room for experience to happen. Savasana is an act of both dying and being born. Our minds are often very busy thinking about so many choices and we are often looking around for what’s next. Corpse in some respects resembles death but it is also a wake up call and practice for peace within ourselves. Sometimes we underestimate the practice of savasana and how essential it is to our asana practice. Remember that when we lie in savasana, we are exercising our inner peace practice. Savasana teaches you this. It teaches you that the movements of life are important in contrast with the stillness of death. So next time you find yourself in savasana, treat it as if it were as important as any of the other asanas you practice. Because it is.
I love you, Kara. You were there today and a piece of you will always be with me.
Love and peace, my friend.
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
“I wish you were here, but you’re not. You’re there. And there doesn’t know how lucky there is. You live on now in our memories.” Unknown