This week I was inspired by the podcast “S Town”. The story itself is very dark but there was a theme woven through it that touched me. The idea that time is moving, measured and tracked but cannot be stopped; that we have a choice about what we are going to do with our hours; are we going to count them or live in them. The main character in the podcast was a brilliant but eccentric antique clock restorer. The concept of time fascinated him. He built clocks and sundials and was quite obsessed with the passage of time and time being wasted. He talked about how sundials often have inscriptions on them and he shared some of the inscriptions he had seen. “Take the gifts of this hour” was one of them.
So I asked my students to do just that; To “take the gifts of our hour” (75 min actually) together by exploring how each pose offers gifts to the body and how the practice overall offers gifts for the mind. As we warmed up and moved into our first Downward Dog I offered the practice of taking the gifts. I shared that by engaging the belly, the spine can lengthen more, and that externally rotating the shoulders strengthens the rotator cuff, and by pressing through the heels there is a deeper stretch through the back of the legs. Connecting to these opportunities is the difference between being in Downward Dog and taking the “gifts of Downward Dog”.
As we moved through our asana practice there was the opportunity to explore and “take” the overall gifts of the practice… the chance for an extra moment in childs pose, a clearing of the mind and finding space, strength and flexibility not just physically but mentally as well. We slowly progressed towards exploring some deep binding and then later we played with transitioning between Astavakrasana and Eka Pada Koundinyasana II (both pictured above) to appreciate the gifts we received in the hour… to live fully in the moment, to laugh and enjoy and try something new. It was not about executing this very challenging transition perfectly, rather to appreciate all the gifts received along the journey.
As we began to slow down we spent several breaths in Pigeon and I shared how “taking the gifts of the hour” can translate off the mat. The main character in the podcast had calculated out if a person lives for 68 years (hopefully we all live longer than that) they live for 25,000 hours. Of those hours; 20-30% are spent sleeping and another large percentage of time is used to complete the tasks we need to do in our lives. In his calculation, that leaves a person 4,500 waking hour days (meaning 108,000 hours) to pursue matters that are meaningful to them. These hours offer us gifts to take and we should take the gifts of each one of them.
As our “hour” together came to a close we sat together in a moment of seated meditation. I thanked my students for giving me the gift of their time. I wished for them the chance to continue the practice and “take the gifts” of all their hours off the mat. Namaste.