The Mindful Body.
It’s a name of a yoga studio located in Pacific Heights, San Francisco.
“Mindful” is a very good term that is hard to translate into Japanese. The dictionary defines: attentive, aware, or careful.
Both “attentive” and “aware” are also sort of difficult words to translate precisely into Japanese. Mindful is a combination of ”気付いている,” “思慮深い,” “気遣う,” “感覚的に鋭い,” “注意深い,” etc. etc. To me, the word connotes gentleness and tenderness.
My old yoga teacher, Maile, teaches Hatha Flow at the Mindful Body. Interestingly enough, Maile is my current yoga teacher, Stacey’s best friend. Isn’t it amazing that the best friend of my yoga teacher in SF lives in Kamakura, next to my home town in Japan? Like-minded people are meant to flock together.
On Friday evening, I went to Maile’s class. A yoga studio at the Mindful Body had a high ceiling with a skylight. Three sides were walled, and one side was completely curtained (that was also an entrance to the studio). This structure gave it to a soft and open touch.
Guided by Maile’s grounded and graceful voice, I gradually synchronized with my breathing. In the downward dog asana, I sensed where pains resided in my deep inner muscles. One line in the left side body from the buttocks all the way up to the neck, and the left arm from the pinkie to the shoulder. The more I pushed my legs onto the floor, the more energy was released and spread into the entire body. As if the wave of energy had penetrated throughout my triangled body. Up. And down. It felt so good. In everyday life, most of us (needless to say, including me) focus too much on the head and use partially just the upper body: the neck, shoulders, arms. We don’t utilize the chest and belly and back, not to mention the lower body. As a result, tension and stiffness is stored in the upper body. Stuck. Stagnant. Aches. Yoga helps activate the parts of the body underused and flow the breath and energy.
Concentrating on each and every asana accompanied with deep breath allowed me to feel pains that had been dormant. Hidden pains veiled underneath rushy busy daily life. I got connected to the pains. I realized how much pain I carried unconsciously yet ignored them.
A pain can be just physical. However, a pain can be emotional as well. We metamorphose an emotional pain into a physical one and accumulate it in the body. As I was stretching the body and plunging into my pains, I became emotional and tearful. The body pains reminded me that I was psychologically hurt. It made me aware of why I have come to the Bay Area on this trip. There is something that I need to and want to take care of.
On the way back home, I took a Divisadero bus. I got off at 18th and Castro, my old neighborhood. Everything seemingly stayed the same as when I left there, except that a few new shops opened. With mixed feelings, I walked up on the steep hill to my old apartment. I looked at the room where I used to live. It was somehow striking that my mirror that I hadn’t taken with me when moving out was still leaned to the window. Perhaps, the new person kept using it.
I walked down on the street, thinking that my life in Castro was filled with struggles and sufferings. Castro is one of the most lively areas in the city. People laugh, chat, hug, sing, dance and get drunk. Struggles and sufferings sound like a total contrast. Nonetheless, maybe that’s the real face of Castro. At the end, I was living in the right place in the right time of my life, and got forced to be out when it collapsed.
I’m happy to be back, ready for recap.