Nesting Your Reasons for Practicing Yoga
"She's going to jump!" "Don't do it," one of the GM employees said part jokingly as if she could hear him through the large glass windows. "It's not worth it!" Even if she could hear him, she'd never understand.
People trickled in, setting up their yoga mats and observed the drama unfolding. I realized the class needed closure about the events taking place outside before we began and apparently so did I.
"What's going on with the goose?" I fished.
One of the two Canadian geese jumped, which we fathomed was the female, and landed into the basement patio. The partner watched from above. The goose was panicked and confused, searching as if in disbelief. "It was just here," you could almost hear her think. What was she looking for?
It happened that her nest, holding eggs that we watched her incubate for weeks, was taken away by the grounds keepers.
The geese at the GM campus are controlled so we aren't inconvenienced and accidentally step on their droppings laid out on sidewalks. But most people take the shuttle to commute between buildings. Sure, someone was attacked last year by a protective goose, but annihilation? Isn't there a more creative way to solve this that could honor the life and activities of our beautiful feathered friends?
Between us, we communicated subtly that the nest and contents were disposed of.
"Well," I moaned regrettably, "the one thing she has going for herself... is she's not a chicken." We chuckled uncomfortably and sadly. From there we began our practice and in closing my eyes with the group, I watched my breath and began to set the stage for our minds and hearts. Birds had already been on my mind and heart for the past few days.
Last Friday, I was watching the doves living in my grandmother's hanging flower basket. The basket, now outside my window, heavy and still, supported the mama dove as she vomited repeatedly for minutes without interruption into the two chicks' mouths. It looked as if each tiny beak was inserted into her nostrils and she was vomiting out of her nose, two tiny heads and weak necks attached to her every move, like a three headed dinosaur whose back feathers stuck in and out to follow the constant gagging movement of her head. I wanted to vomit as well, but my kids weren't around until later! Oh... no... See the little ones below?
On Saturday I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to the many surrounding birds singing. I hadn't been able to wake up that early for some time now but those songs lifted me up. So inspired, I wrote a blog post from start to finish before the children woke up. After they began their day, I fed them undigested food on a plate (oh...no...). While they played so did I and I painted my first painting in 12 years... here it is:
Sunday, driving up Woodward Ave near Cranbrook, I slowed down for a turkey to cross and then watched her friend or partner lift off and take flight to follow right in front of me. It was so heavy it could barely keep itself up. The turkey in flight, which I have never seen before, crossed Woodward safely.
And then Monday's goose.
Monday's goose that lost her eggs rattled me. After we witnessed her loss and initial shock, I used her story to build our class. All the following classes that day would follow suit and I shared her story before beginning each one. All week, I've been opening with the same meditation and integrating the bird-centered postures sequenced immediately after the drama. In my third class that Monday, I was told that a homeowner's association's strategy is to shake the eggs while the parents are away and set them back in the nest. All the more reason to honor the birds this whole week.
So, for this week, I have been introducing each class to the Canadian goose who lost her nest. In that spirit, honoring the goose that lost her nest and eggs, we have been centering our minds in nests of gratitude and centering our bodies in bird postures. We flew through flamingo pose, crow pose, pigeon's pose, pigeon-toed folds, and many kundalini bird exercises which was beautiful and touching to see and hear.
In case you weren't in my classes or you'd like to remember what you experienced and build on it, I've written out the opening idea that I've been communicating. You'll find below it the same meditation in a free audio download which you can also simply stream.
For the audio, you'll want to use headphones, and never mind the white noise fan blowing in the background, maybe I left it on intentionally. I encourage you to take a moment and listen to the audio with your eyes closed in seated meditation in a quiet place where you can relax.
Nesting Your Reasons - Meditation
Sitting up tall in seated mediation on the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes. Begin to watch your breath. After you've become noticeably relaxed and feel the here and now of your presence, begin to contemplate. Give yourself a moment to bring to mind the reasons you come to your yoga practice. They can be little reasons or maybe big reasons. These reasons do not need to be all inclusive, just gather what comes. Holding these reasons in your mind, begin to feel a sense of thankfulness and gratitude for them. Some reasons might not seem easy to be thankful for, such as physical pain, though if not for that pain, maybe you wouldn't have a yoga practice at all, nor would you receive all of the other benefits that come to you. Consider these reasons a moment longer.
Now imagine in your mind, a nest. Begin to set those reasons, little and big, onto and into that nest. How often do you remember these reasons? How thankful are you for them? Begin to connect to that feeling of gratitude. Grateful for these reasons, feeling so thankful that this feeling fills into your heart center and even into the heart itself, flooding the heart region with thankfulness that you have reasons... and that you have a nest at all."
The value of knowing your reasons for doing something that's good for you is immeasurable. If you take time to really think about these reasons, you will find that they are intimately connected and woven together with self-love. Furthermore, the little reasons can grow into the big reasons, and the big reasons are found in the little ones.
In other words, as Rudolf Steiner puts it, "The greatest must find expression in the smallest." They are linked, you just have to pay attention as to how.
The activity of the birds have impacted me especially strongly this spring. Through them, I feel my own desire to be active, to create, to sing and feel free. I hope you too can give yourself time to honor these feathered miracles that hop, nestle, flutter and soar while they share their songs all around and within this beautiful little egg called Earth.
Happy Postscript: After I wrote this in the morning, I taught a class at the UAW-GM building. As I walked down the corridor with my guest who is observing me teach for her teacher training program. She pointed out the window sign asking people to be mindful of the nesting goose in a certain corner of the courtyard. Beyond the courtyard is a beautiful garden space that employees can enjoy which backs to the Detroit River. On the way home, Kelsey and I laughed to the "Golden Goose" song by Todd Rundgren, which is worth a silly ear and an excellent smile. That's my closure...for now.
Another wonderful video I found this week helped me learn how oxygen enters bird eggs, and I highly recommend it as well! It illustrates our similarities to birds... To watch it, CLICK HERE!
Above Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash
Title Photo by Kaiwen Sun on Unsplash
Before you go.... I'd love to hear about your experiences with our feathered friends, your connection to birds, the reasons you identified for your yoga practice or some other activity you do. And if not any of those, maybe just a "hello" so I know you're out there. ❤️