September 21 • 04:07 PM

Flexibility with or without a yoga pose

April 11, 2018
B-l-e-s-s-e-d a-r-e t-h-o-s-e I eek out onto the chalkboard with some sidewalk chalk.

The chunky white stick makes the writing a slow-go, leaving a trail of little chalk chips that I clear with my breath as if I'm blowing out candles on a cake.

Though it's not my birthday—or anyone else's—writing messages on the chalkboard is a bit of a celebration. I like to come up with something funny, or inspirational, or even a little profound every week to share with the yoga students at my practice, Peaceful Moon.

This week's message is "Blessed are those who are flexible, 'cause they don't get bent outta shape."

I finish the phrase with a little chuckle. "True that," I say to no one in particular.

After adding a few stars and a peace sign to the sandwich board, I put the little string lights back around it and place the sign in the corner near the flameless but convincingly realistic woodstove in the studio.

I give it a quick re-read to make sure it's right: "Blessed are those who are flexible, 'cause they don't get bent outta shape." Yep. That's the message.

Next step is to get the music going—a relaxing ohm chant performed by a chorus of monks—adjust the lighting and wait for the class to begin.

Students start to fill the space, unfurling their mats in their favorite spots in the room, chatting with each other and making jokes about the sign.

One student—Angie—says it's just what she needed to hear that day. She takes her phone out and snaps off a photo of the message to remember, and share.

At 6 p.m. on the dot, I put the 'yoga in session' sign on the door, close it and begin the basic session as always—asking the students to find their way into "the easy seated position of their choice," close their eyes and begin to breathe. We always start the basic class—yin class too— in seated meditation. We sit for at least three minutes, sometimes more, inhaling and exhaling, beginning to unplug from the outside world to plug into the present moment and what it feels like to be in our bodies. Sometimes it's a guided meditation, sometimes I read a poem or relate a parable, and sometimes it's just breathing in and out, affirming an individual intention.

This particular evening, I'm using a singing bowl to affirm each line in a guided meditation. I turn off the electronic chants in order to tap the exquisite crystal bowl with a rubber tipped mallet, letting it's F# tone reverberate and vibrate throughout the room. It's absolutely heavenly...

...Until it's not. When I go to activate my specially designed, ultra relaxing playlist on my Kindle and wireless speaker, nothing happens. The little circle thing on the Kindle just keeps going round and round, and the speaker stands there, like a good soldier, silent.

I try not to panic in the darkened room as I begin the class sans music.

"Next inhale, inhale the chin up to the sky," I say and then pause, "and now exhale, chin down to the chest."

I repeat the phrase, trying to sound stress free (this is a yoga class after all) and tiptoe toward my desk where Plan B—an "old-fashioned" portable radio/CD player that plugs into a real electrical outlet. I fish around in the darkness for an empty socket in the almost-full powerstrip that's plugged in near the tea table, find it and press play. Brian Eno's 'Music for Airports' emits from the speakers, the gentle tones filling the room.

Suddenly, I feel like laughing, but I don't. A smile spreads across my face like a wave finding its way home to shore.

"Blessed are those who are flexible, 'cause they don't get bent outta shape," I think.

Exhaling big time, I walk back to my mat, and continue on.

"From here we'll take our first gentle twist," I say, as usual before cuing the pose.

Message received: Being flexible—or at least being open to the idea that life comes with many twists and turns—keeps one from getting bent outta shape...

Which leads to next week's message: "Sometimes you need yoga. Sometimes you need a beer. Sometimes you need both."


Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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