I’m a long-time practitioner of pigeon yoga.
That’s the kind of yoga that combines half-poses, sort-of-stretches, and uneven breathing, for ten minutes twice a day.
I combined pigeon yoga with a 1200-calorie diet to lose 82 lbs between March 1, 2008 and March 1, 2010. I still practice the language though not the diet. I’ve gained back about 10 of those pounds. Everybody’s okay with that ten-pound margin — and by “everybody”, I mean me, my doctor, and my dead mother who spun in her grave when I reached size 00.
I’ve tried yoga classes including Hatha, gentle, restorative, and that one with incense. Floor exercises challenge me and the burning fumes cause me to wheeze. Patient yoga instructors find my presence in their classes somewhat distracting. I require lots of assistance. Mostly for their benefit but a bit to save my pride, I went back to pigeon yoga in my breakfast nook.
Yesterday The Social Media sent a diagram of the sun salutation into my inbox. I stared at its twelve movements, of which I can comfortably do about five on a good day. I took my first yoga class in 1974 at St. Louis University but my first physical therapist back in the late 1960s also had credentials as a yoga instructor. I’ve been trying to complete an entire sun salutation for 45 years.
My stomach clenched as I watched a lithe practitioner flawlessly complete the sequence in a Youtube video last evening.
The most helpful yoga video ever to come my way is that of Peggy Cappy, who believes that everyone can do yoga. I found Ms. Cappy’s work through the website of a one-legged yoga instructor who exchanged e-mails with me. I’m able-bodied, she explained, with no apparent irony. Since you’re disabled, you might find Peggy Cappy’s work easier to follow than mine. I did not question her characterization of herself as not being disabled. She explained that she had lost one leg in a car accident but otherwise had no impairments.
I stared at her videos for hours, envying the smooth moves of a one-legged lady.
Peggy Cappy’s videos helped me adapt yoga moves and split them into unrecognizable halves which give some benefit though a keen observer would not consider them “real yoga”. But even so, the sun salutation has eluded me.
I woke this morning craving scrambled eggs, toast, and Earl Grey — hot, plain. My throat hurt a little and my legs screamed from two days of lying around too sick to stretch. My second or third thought brought the previous evening’s experience to the surface. A slow realization gripped me.
I have a goal. I’m going to force my spastic body to perfect the sun salutation this year. This year. I don’t remember my first physical therapist’s name though I do know that she worked for an orthopaedic surgeon in Clayton, Missouri. I don’t suppose I will ever find her. But when I reach my goal — and I will reach my goal — I’m going to post my own damn video and ask all of my friends to send it out into the universe with my thanks to that PT, to my yoga teacher here in KC, Becky Holsen, to Ms. Cappy, and to that one-legged lady online whose website I have never again come across.
Reaching my goal will be tough but I’m not complaining. Not one damn bit.
It’s the twentieth day of the twenty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.