I step on my mat, eyes closed, spine straight and tall, hands at heart-centre, making small wriggles with my toes to grip onto the rubbery surface.
With each deep breath, I visualise a tiny glimmer in the centre of my heart, giving thanks to everyone and everything for my healthy body, allowing me to practise yoga.
I first acknowledge and recognise the medical front liners who are risking their lives to help those in need and test the countless suspected COVID-19 cases day in and day out. Without their fearless souls, it’s unimaginable how many countless more would be bedridden or even dead.
Next, the food and beverage industry – every service staff who has kept everyone in the world fed during these trying times, turning up to the kitchen or kiosk to serve food to those who can’t cook for themselves.
And everyone who has been, and continues to be, socially responsible to reduce the infection rates to a minimum. Keeping the pandemic under control is everyone’s responsibility, and the success of overcoming this disaster as a species depends on all of us.
I’m grateful the numbers are as they are right now, because it could have gone a lot of worse if most of us are not as mindful as we are. I know for certain that all around me are doing their very best to adhere to the measures set by global health authorities.
As I release my hands from my heart centre to my sides, still mindful of the growing energy flowing through my warm palms, I take the deepest inhale of the day yet and clasp my palms above my head, setting the intention for my practice today.
My head follows my clasped palms down to my heart centre once again, as I exhale slowly but purposefully, feeling the sensations of my every cell filling up with the gratitude I have for that very moment in time, where nothing else matters except the present.
In today’s world, many of us don’t take the time to reflect on the fortunate things that happen to us. Often, we dwell on the few unlucky events that stick out like a sore thumb, getting angry or moody at best, and losing sleep at worst.
When luck is on our side, we feel entitled to it – pleasurable things should happen to me because I’m a good person. I deserve it because hey; I gave up my seat to the old lady on the bus; I donated $10 to the crippled old man selling tissue paper without taking a pack; I check in to work early and leave the office later than most people who came in later than me; so yes, I deserve all the fortune that comes my way!
But we almost never stop in our busy tracks to give thanks to the favourable incidents that we experience. Thanking mostly the people who made it possible for us to have pleasant experiences in our daily lives.
Or just being grateful for the life that we’re leading while millions if not billions in other corners of the globe are suffering from things we’ve never even heard of. That’s not to say we’re to pretend we understand their plights, no.
Be grateful of the good and bad in life. Bliss and sorrow happen to all of us. If there’s no suffering, we won’t appreciate comfort; if there’s no comfort, we won’t know suffering. Both exist in human consciousness because of our sentience – we differentiate one from the other to give our lives meaning.
Flowing through each yoga pose gives my body even more energy than before I started the practice, despite beads of sweat trickling down my now damp brows and open pores. In yoga, there’s no judgment or competition – everyone might look different in a pose because we’re all at different stages of our practice.
Surrounded by the deep, rhythmic pants of others in the studio, breathing in the same air heated by the overflowing energy of each and every one of us, I lose myself at the moment. From struggling beginner yogis to hyper-flexible, seasoned practitioners, everyone is giving spiritual support to each other without saying a word, but just focusing on the breath, gaze, and posture.
As we slowly reach the end of the class with the closing sequences, our deep, exhausted breaths starting to wind down from the peak poses, all of us thinking of the intention we’ve set an hour ago, belonging to just ourselves or our loved ones, I could sense the silent gratitude of the class. We’re all grateful for the instructor, the studio’s commitment, and the company of each other in the same, mindful space.
Shavasana, the final “corpse” pose in every yoga practice to allow the body to rest completely while the mind wanders away, releasing all the tension and tightness in the muscles at the start of the practice, physical and psychological.
Shavasana is also the moment where yogis give thanks to their body for giving them the energy to flow as one with the breath and gaze, clearing the mind of all worries and stress of being human.
After two to three minutes of rest, the instructor quietly and gently prompts us to bring our attention back to our breath, neck, fingers, and toes, before a long stretch and rolling to our right side, and finally coming back to a seated position, hands to heart centre, bowing and giving thanks for the practice.
Although practising yoga with 10 or more other yogis in the same studio right now is not only impossible but not advisable, I’m grateful to still practice at home on my own mat with others over Zoom, still reaping all the benefits of yoga, albeit sans the company of other mindful individuals.
I’m thankful for all the events in my life, blissful and sorrowful, comfortable and sufferable, fortunate and ill-fated, because without either, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I might not be the best version of myself now (who is, really?), but it’s an ongoing journey for me and everyone else who wants to lead a meaningful life.