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I admit: This 21.5.800 project has NOT been easy.

When I was in college, I was doing yoga class twice a week and at home the remaining five days. I was a runner (because I had so much I needed to run from), logging in 8-12 miles nearly every morning (my limit was 0 degrees F — If it was that or colder, I stayed home). I ate healthy food, lots of fresh vegetables (when I could afford them) and whole grains. I drank my herbal infusions and made herbal oils and salves for injuries. I was considering a career in midwifery, to supplement my writing. I wrote for hours a day (I was a writing major, after all).

Then I moved to Washington state. I lived on an island in Puget Sound. I followed my heart.

When I got there, I was so excited to do yoga on the beach. I was so excited to do yoga in the living room, next to the pot-bellied woodstove, looking out across the bay at my beloved Olympics. I was so excited for year-round farmer’s markets, fresh peaches in August, berries all spring, a giant lavender shrub in my front yard.

I did no yoga. I wrote nothing. I ate some fresh foods, but I left before the peaches came.

I wasn’t safe. I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t safe.

In fact, my life was in danger.

After a few terrible, traumatic experience, I left. I lived in a tent in a friend’s backyard, trying to figure things out. I was so scared.

One afternoon I walked down to the pier in the middle of downtown. I had lost my job, lost my home, all of my belongings were in a storage unit. I was so lost. The only thing I could do was walk around my beloved small sea-side town and grieve. And grieve I did.

There was no one on the pier. It was a grey day. Not many tourists, and most were inside the coffee shops and pastry shops warming up with steamy mugs and fresh-baked goods. I think I would have been oblivious to anyone around me anyway, I was so deep in my grief.

I was leaving in two days. I knew I might never return, not even for all my worldly possessions, including my beloved books. I set down my bag, took off my rain jacket, and went to the very edge of the pier, where the fence dipped down and you could almost touch the water in high tide.

And then I knew what to do.

I stretched high into Mountain pose, reached far down into a Forward Fold. I stepped back into a Low Lunge, then rose into Warrior 2. I rested there, my front arm stretched far out across the water, out into my lover the sea. I dropped my back arm to my ankle, raising my front hand high into the cloudy grey sky which held all the drops of my tears. Coming back into Warrior 2, I paused, then placed my hands on the pier near my front foot. I stepped back into Downward Dog, pressing my heels as deep as possible into the old, rugged wood. I wanted to leave my footprints here, to always remember, so the water would never forget.

I stepped into a Forward Fold, rolled my spine up, and brought my arms to rest in front of my heart. My face a blend of sea spray and salty tears, I wept. For the first time in weeks, I wept. I left it all with the ocean.

I turned, picked up my jacket and bag, and walked away.

It will be four years in August since I left my sea-side town, with it’s bakeries and lighthouses and forts and piers. Four years since I remembered that yoga, without pretense and thought, can save me. It can save all of us.

So even though I struggle with the yoga during this 21.5.800 experience (mostly because I love practicing in a class, but cannot afford it), I still settle into Warrior 2. I still rest in Child’s Pose, soar in my Handstand. I still wait in Tree pose, hands in Namaste in front of my heart, for my breathing to slow, my mind to quiet, my body to present.

I still dream of teaching yoga to people who can’t afford it, because I understand what that is like. Free yoga, open to anyone. In the open air, in the grass of a park or the garden on a rooftop. Everytime I find myself far off the path of my heart, this is where I return. I want to share that with others.

I am so grateful to Bindu, for bringing me back to my center, without having to do anything.