Yoga is weird. Even when you’re just doing yoga to do yoga, it’s weird. I mean, think about it. Traditionally, yoga was done to prepare the body to sit in one place for hours on end so that meditation could be physically comfortable. Now, though we’ve bastardized it a lot, yoga is still kind of about that. We might not sit for hours on end in meditation, but we do it so that we can be calmer, so that we can utilize the breathing tools that yoga teaches us during stressful moments, so that, in times of chaos, we can check back in with our body, our mind, and our emotional wellbeing and know that we can overcome whatever is happening. And that’s just wild–and yes, weird, in the best way possible–that something as simple as moving your body can transform your mind.
As a writer, it’s even weirder. Recently, one of my good friends asked me to gather my thoughts on the connection between yoga and writing, and while, at first, I was a little daunted by the prospect, I knew that I would be able to do it. Because, for me, at least, yoga is a huge part of my writing. Probably more than I ever intended it to be, and I’m so grateful for it.
I’ve talked about my faery story off and on in the last few years, the struggle to find balance with Mason and all that’s happened in my personal story around his story. Four years ago, he was the first story I’d ever written after finally setting aside twelve years of the same fantasy novel over and over again, and it was such a rush of feeling to be writing not only something new, but something different. Mason was the story that set me on path I’m walking today, that shaped me into the writer I am now.
And then, without any warning at all, my entire life was turned on its head. My best friend walked out of my life, taking Mason’s heart with him and promising that his hateful words would echo over my shoulder with every single book I tried to write after that. It’s been a little over four years since that day, since the fragile hope I’d built for my writing was absolutely shattered, and, for the first time, I’m finally making my way back to Mason, and it all started with yoga.
This autumn, I attended an equinox class, held outside under the stars and the moon, and it was the culmination of a lot of things. The year prior, during Halloween, I’d lit an intention on fire saying that I was ready to let go of this friend, that I wanted to move on from that pain. Throughout the year leading up to the equinox, I kept repeating that intention, over and over, as I slowly made my way back to Mason. As we moved through practice on the equinox, I held that intention right at the surface until it was time to speak them aloud, and I can still remember how strong my voice was even as tears fell, “I’m done. I’m done letting him control my life and my words. I am ready to love myself just as I am, to love my books just as they are, and to never let anyone else decide who I was meant to be and what I was meant to write ever again.”
It was a powerful practice. Our teacher led us through some fiery poses, both to combat the cold and to build heat for the equinox. We were all in sweaters and socks and had blankets ready to bundle up for our savasana, and it was such a fun and bright class.
When it came time to finally settle in for our savasana, it didn’t feel like anything remarkable was about to happen. I’d had a good night, and I was thinking about Mason, but I didn’t expect what was to come. I was bundled up, the night sky was dark above me, the moon lingering somewhere in the distance, and that fire was still stoked high. I was happy, and I was ready to bring about the end of 2020 and herald in a new year of, hopefully, joy.
I’m never going to forget what came next, and it’s still haunting me months later. Savasanas are always moments of potential. Sometimes, it’s just a slow, soft rest after a long, hard practice. Sometimes, I’m antsy, and I’d just like it to be over so I can do whatever’s next on my agenda. Sometimes, I don’t even notice it passing and am suddenly awake. But sometimes, and though it’s rare, I have experienced it a few times now, all of them related to writing, sometimes something truly wild happens.
This equinox, as I was finally laying down, a wind started to kick up around me. The moon wasn’t visible from where I was lying, but it wouldn’t have mattered. My eyes were closed, and a fire as bright as the sun was stirring in my bones.
Above me, it sounded like dozens and dozens of crows were rustling in the tree overhead. They kept shifting, wings opening and closing, shuffling together. They were still quiet, but I could hear them moving, restless, almost as though they were waiting for something.
And then, the fire stoked higher.
It was as though I’d lifted out of my body, was perched in the tree like one of those crows, looking down at not myself, but a body, wrapped so tightly in ropes that I could not fathom how they would ever be free. The crows were suddenly wild, cawing and flapping as they lifted from the tree, whipping through the night sky. The body lay still, bound in ropes, unmoving even as the crows descended, furious. They tore at the ropes, flaying not just them, but the body wrapped inside, and I watched it happen, distant and uncertain.
A few moments later, our teacher slowly drew us up out of savasana, and though I’d been uncertain only a moment ago, I knew, the second I sat up, that that body had been Mason, not me, and that this was a beginning, not an end.
A few weeks ago, right at the end of 2020, I was practicing again, plagued as I’d been for nights on end with this dream of crows in a tree and a rope-bound body. I couldn’t stop thinking about that dream as I practiced, and I should have known what that would mean for my savasana, but it was somehow still shocking, just as it had been the first time.
Like on the equinox, when I laid down for savasana at the end of the year, I could hear crows again, rustling in a tree overhead even though, this time, I was inside. It seemed like it was going to be the same vision all over again, crows descending on a rope-bound body, and I should have known that wouldn’t be the case, but yoga is weird. It doesn’t follow rules. It’s never the same thing twice. It does whatever it wants, even if you think that you’re in control of what’s happening, and it’s just weird, and I love it so damn much.
Because, at the end of such a year of chaos, and at the end of four years of uncertainty, and the end of a year of deciding to take back the confidence in my writing, to stop letting other people tell me what to feel about it–at the end of all of that, when I looked down upon that rope-bound body anymore, as I listened to the crows start cawing and saw them take flight, I prepared myself to watch those ropes be torn apart again, and then.
I realized the ropes were no longer tightly bound. Instead, they were loose and falling together because there was no body inside of them anymore. I looked to the side, and there he was, as I’ve always pictured him in my head, my fire elemental faery, Mason, grinning as the crows descended on the ropes.
And then there was fire.
The crows lifted into the air as the ropes caught on fire, and everything that had been before burned as ashes fell heavy in my hands. It was over. Mason was home.
I know this sounds crazy. Trust me, you’re not alone. Whenever I try to tell people about this weird, wild savasana dream, they look at me like I’ve got a half dozen heads. Because it is weird, not just because yoga is weird, but because writing is weird, and that combo? No wonder it only happens on in a blue moon. I’m still reeling from it, and it was nearly half a year ago at this point. But there have been so many times when the biggest moments of my writing career have happened during my yoga practice.
In the end, I don’t really know what to say about all of it, just that I’m going to keep practicing yoga until the end of my days, and I’m going to keep writing even after that, and, somehow, both of those mean the same thing.