The Colors of the Wind (Road Trip Part II)

Yes, I did manage to haul my ass out of bed at 5:45 this morning and back to Bristol Yoga Studio for a second Kripalu class. I left a few minutes later than planned and walked into the studio at 6:32 AM, after class had already started. There was a friendly-looking young woman at the front of the serene room with the wooden floors, and only three other students in the room. I discreetly joined them (or as discreetly as one can join a quiet room when she accidentally drops her water bottle upon entry) and jumped right into my practice.

I didn’t think it was possible, but this class was even slower and more meditative than the practice we did last night. The postures weren’t designed to challenge our muscles, but rather to stretch and relax them. Our instructor’s voice was soft and gentle, telling us to let go of our thoughts, to allow ourselves to release any tension or preoccupation we may have held coming into class. There was no right way to perform this yoga; she emphasized over and over again that this was our practice, offering several different modifications for each posture that we should choose depending on what felt best for our bodies.

A different experience from Bikram, to say the least.

The instructor told me after class that the word Kripalu actually means “compassion,” which would explain the gentle nature of the practice. But the practice in meditation is just as hard, if not harder, than the physical challenges that Bikram hurled at my sweaty body for thirty days. I feel like I’m reaching a little further into my zone with every class.

After practice, I drove back to Sarah and Brian’s house blasting music louder than most neighborhoods probably wanted to hear before 8AM on a Wednesday, but I was on a yoga high. Relaxed muscles, clear mind, positive energy- and the day had just begun.

After a quick breakfast, we headed to the beach for the morning.

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From the beach, we stopped back at the house for a lunch even quicker than breakfast, and then headed off to the day’s main event: sailing with Sarah and Brian.

Sailing itself would’ve been exciting enough, as I’d never been on a sailboat before, but this was no ordinary sailing experience. Sarah, an OT professor at Tufts University, badass ski instructor at Loon Mountain, and one of my favorite human beings on the planet, also happens to be paralyzed from the waist down. She was hit by a car when she was twenty three years old, and has been taking the world by storm on wheels ever since.

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In her free time, Sarah sails. And by sails, I mean she skillfully races sailboats and wins international competitions. She’ll be traveling to Ireland in a few weeks with Brian and Ellie to compete. (But keep in mind, this is just a hobby.)

As we set sail on the beautiful blue water of Narraganset Bay, I was given the responsibility of manning the rope connected to the main sail, the technical name of which I’ve already forgotten. Within about three minutes I proved my inability to do anything that would benefit the boat at large (i.e. pulled when I should’ve eased up, admired the arms of a handsome man on a nearby boat instead of actively following Sarah’s directions) and my mom politely took over main sail duties. She pulled that rope with more muscle and confidence than Johnny Depp in a Captain Jack Sparrow costume, and I have to admit, I was impressed. She’s just so beautiful and strong, you know?

(After she read yesterday’s wedgie comment, my mom told me that she thought any readers who don’t know her personally will probably think she’s some sort of unsophisticated lunatic. To which I responded, “but what about the ones who do know you personally?”)

(Just kidding, I totally didn’t say that, that would’ve been rude. She is, at the very least, an incredibly sophisticated lunatic. The world’s most kindhearted, most giving, most sophisticated lunatic. And I meant what I said about those sailing skills. She gave that boat the business.)

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Once we found our rhythm, the five of us had quite a lovely afternoon on the water. After about an hour or two of smooth sailing (puns!), Sarah made a happy observation.

“We always say you don’t have time to come out and sail, but you just have to make time. It’s so peaceful out here, and quiet, away from everything that’s happening on land.” She looked over at me. “Hannah, this is definitely some kind of yoga.”

“Oh totally, it’s meditation,” my mom agreed. “Hann, that can be your post for tonight! Active meditation!”

And so, here we are. After a few hours out on the sailboat, watching the blue water pass beneath us and enjoying the wind’s salty spray, I could easily see a connection between sailing and yoga. A calm place, a tranquil escape, a focus on something outside of yourself. Or maybe a focus on something inside of yourself. Even in the intense atmosphere of a race, Sarah has to remain calm and clear-headed to make decisions and lead her crew. She must stay in the present moment and avoid panic. She has to let go and see where the wind takes her.

And isn’t that all we strive for in yoga? The ability to let go and follow the wind?

Well, that’s what I’m striving for anyways. To let go, to calm my mind, to be the best that I can. And hey, if I learn to paint with all the colors of the wind, that’s just an added bonus. So Sarah and Brian, if you get around to reading this, thank you so much for an incredible two days. I’m sure we’ll be back for more adventures.

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(I promise I’m far less competent than these pictures might lead you to believe.)

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Sarah, in her happy place.

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The whole gang!

My eyelids are starting to droop, so I should probably head to sleep. More yoga, beaching, and exploring to be done tomorrow! Look out Cape Cod, here we come.

Namaste,
Hannah

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marcia Imbrescia
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 14:14:31

    I agree, your mom is beautiful and strong – but don’t tell her I said so, let’s keep her humble. And Sarah is totally badass. Glad your road trip is going so well.

    Reply

  2. njcyogi
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 23:13:40

    So great to share Yoga on the Beach with you today! When I’m not doing yoga I am an avid sailor and Paddleboard enthusiast! It is all YOGA! Surrendering to the forces of nature, being present and flowing with the wind or water is just another way I like to BE! Happy sails!

    Reply

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