First Morning at Ashram Yoga

Risk taking. My friends and I all see that term in various ways. For many in Telluride, it’s pushing the limits with adrenaline, skiing back country peaks or climbing craggy cliffs. For some, it’s speaking up for themselves or making time for something they need in the face of what seems like never ending responsibility.

For me, right now, it’s leaving friends and family behind to pursue something my parents still dubiously look upon as a cult. I woke up at this ashram on the Coromandel Peninsula outside of Auckland, New Zealand, with a nagging feeling of dread, like I was forgetting something or that I’d already forgotten it.

My goal for this trip was to “live in the moment”, that phrase you so often hear if you are around anything slightly yogic for more than a second. It can be hard to do so when you drag around so much of your past with you. That cliche – “wherever you go, there you are,” rings true because it’s one of the most difficult things to let go – of expectations and relationships, of the comfort of knowing what to expect and the uncertainty of giving in to something outside yourself. To trust.

For example, I woke up wondering what the day holds. At home, I would be in charge of my schedule. I would have a plan – for food, exercise, work, socializing. Here, I don’t control any of those things. I have to give up control of the minutiae of the day. Seems enviable, in a way, and it would be, if I could really give in to it.

In the midst of all these thoughts, I heard a scuffle on the roof above me. New Zealand originally was populated only with birds, and although the mammals we’ve introduced have wiped out many populations, there is still more birdsong here than anywhere I’ve been. Above my head, on the roof, were squawks and twitters, and then a few thumps.

I walked out onto the deck to try to take a look and was distracted. The sun was rising over the ocean, and there was a break in the clouds for pink and gold light to burnish the horizon. The light scattered the little waves into a million golden specks. The sound of the ocean filled my head, and there was just an instant where everything fit into place.

Maybe I don’t know what the day holds, and that fills me with a bit of fear. But there are moments like that, staring at the light on the water, that make it worthwhile.

Opoutere Beach, Coromandel

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