I went to Iowa City with my mom for the last two days, and I was lucky enough to find a yoga studio in the same building as our hotel.
The studio, called Heartland Yoga, was one big practice room on the second floor with lots of windows overlooking the street below. They had manduka mats for us to borrow, which was a treat I've never experienced. I was one of only three students. Abby, the instructor, led a guided meditation to start. She immediately introduced some of the cues she would continue to give in every pose-shoulders back and down, relax your jaw, stay present in the room, and breathe.
We moved through a couple moon salutations relatively slowly but deliberately and with enough emphasis on the breath and the core that I quickly felt warm and loose. Abby's way of moving gives her away as a dancer, and sure enough, her biography on the website says that her mother was a ballet dancer, and she's been doing ballet since age 3. I enjoyed trying to copy her graceful movements.
It's amazing how the same cues, heard over and over again, continue to be helpful. You think you're doing everything you can and then you hear "breathe" or "relax your jaw" and the pose morphs from something statuesque into something organic and healing. Or the moment suddenly takes on new dimension, revealing previously unseen vividness. During tree pose, the suggestion to "stay present in the room" seemed like the most brilliant new idea. I balanced, suspended in the skewed position like some ant in amber, softly conscious of the white and red headlights moving, moving, moving below.
Above: Suspended in time, full of light.