Those of us who practice regularly eventually come to understand what a comfort yoga can be. Whether it’s at the end of a stressful day or the beginning of a new one, coming to the mat has the ability to wipe away the anxiety of missed deadlines, or open the heart to accept whatever gifts might be coming our way. For people living busy lives in a whirling world, yoga surely is the perfect elixir for body and soul.
Then just the other day I received an email from an unusual source – a naval aviator named LT Jason Payne. Along with his short note was a picture of two American soldiers practicing yoga on the deck of an aircraft carrier. At first it seemed a little shocking – soldiers practicing such a peaceful art – but a closer look made me smile. Appropriately enough they are standing very enthusiastically in Warrior II – flight suits, heavy boots and all. And on their faces their serene smiles relay a sense of inner calm that only yogis can truly understand. I began to think about their situation – that any minute they could be called into action and possibly face horrific consequences. Certainly that’s more stress and anxiety than most of us will ever have to deal with in our "busy" lives. But thankfully yoga is there on board that ship, halfway around the world, for these young warriors.
Surely we can all agree that war is a tragedy for all of us who live on this earth but it is especially heartbreaking for those young men and women and their families, who are putting their lives on the line day after day. I’m not sure that there could ever be a good enough reason for this to be happening in the 21st Century, but it is. And it makes me feel a little bit better to know that these brave young people might be able to find some solace on the mat.
I often think about the soldiers in this picture. I don’t know who they are or how they are but I do know that as I lay my head down in Child’s Pose, they may be doing the same thing. And somehow our consciousness is connecting and we are able to send good intentions via this connection and I am able to say silently, thank you for being so brave--please stay safe, and perhaps they are saying thank you for keeping us in your hearts. I don’t know but I like to think that this is so.
And I am so very grateful for the practice. And as I step into Warrior II, I make a conscious effort to be enthusiastically courageous in my relatively safe existence.