Physical Equilibrium

Writer’s Note: This poem recounts the experience of doing outdoor yoga on the campus of George Mason University. The experience focuses on the mind’s activity as I make the campus my yoga studio, which conveys a theme of timelessness and mental wellness. Enjoy! -Naima

Physical Equilibrium

I kicked my right leg behind me,

Shifting my body-weight into a handstand.

Upside down, I listened to the gentle whoosh

of blood travelling from the pulse in my neck

to the temples.

As the heads of passersby turned to observe

this quiet outdoor adventure,

I stepped into their shoes.

From the outside looking in,

I am a yogi,

gently drawing the attention of college students

who are rushing to class.

I am a contortion,

an upside-down figure

a transformative shape.

But this activity is not about aesthetics.

Do we dare sacrifice mindfulness for physical appeal?

In this moment,

my lungs blossom.

Oxygen fills the space between each rib.

The eyes close

for just a moment.

I feel the sun rays

against skin.

I feel the wind

crawl through the fibers of my clothing.

Sound is a coalescence of birdsong and jubilant teenage chatter.

While my photographer captures the image

of me

in physical equilibrium,

I wonder…

How amazing would it be to capture the mind’s activity

in a photo?

Perhaps it would be more beautiful than this graceful pose,

or these pointed toes.

But from now and into infinity,

I stay present.

If I may separate myself from thoughts of worry

or conflict,

then I enable myself to gain a rational perspective,

a well-balanced mind achieved only through a well-balanced lifestyle.

So let me be a contortion,

a shape,

a shadow,

a memory,

a space in time.

Regardless of what you perceive

of me,

I’m glad I lived in infinite forms.

I may live in the memories of loved ones,

friends, family, and community members,

or in the eye of a camera.

Perhaps this perception explains why the word “home” seems subjective.

Here, on these steps where I hold a handstand,

I live.

I create a home.

In mindfulness and equilibrium of mind and body,

I live.

And in this space,

my community members contributed to its positive atmosphere.

My lungs have fully blossomed,

and are freshly supplied with oxygen.

The photographer takes one last snapshot

of my elegant shapes,

albeit unbalanced at times,

but nevertheless,

a work-in-progress.

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