The other afternoon in yoga, I got the giggles. I was lying there among the other black-clad women, my right leg dutifully twisted beneath my torso, and me, bent over that right-angled leg, nose to the floor. Pigeon is what they call it, and I am lying there, my hip muscles screamingly open, and I started to giggle.
Our teacher, a former ballet dancer, was versed in Ashtanga yoga – the one where you hold the poses and let your breath ease its way into stuck places. This beautiful, graceful woman, who managed to slip in a demonstration of her mastery of the splits, was not as adept when it came to counting. Five was her favored number for holding all poses except pigeon and then she glommed on to 15 – which is a hellishly long time when lying face down with one leg twisted beneath your body. She counted to 15 slower than a turtle ambling through a vast sea of honey, and all I could do was giggle.
What struck me as I had religiously and with great purpose folded myself into pigeon is how damned serious everything is – the economy, the next election, shrinking stock portfolios, the horrors of our educational system and whether a yoga pose is correct. It is, without question, a deeply serious time.
But as I watch Newt bad-mouthing the media, his truth-telling ex-wives and lobbyists everywhere, I can only laugh. I am so sick of listening to all of them, every one, male and female, Dem, Repub, liberal, conservative. Spouting, promising, blaming and preaching while all of us everyday Americans just keep on struggling.
We need laughter desperately. We need humor and perspective and nuance and patience. And in this uber-speed world we live in, none of that abounds.
So I began to focus on pigeons – those nasty birds that mess up the sides of buildings and seem to be everywhere, and I decided to learn more about what they represent. What is this bird that led me toward giggles and glee, even as my body was folded into excruciating angles?
According to the books on the symbols, pigeons represent “return to the love and security of home.” Doves and pigeons are interchangeable in the symbol world, and I realized this pigeon pose that got me laughing was leading right back to the center of myself, to a far more honest way of being, to feeling and being utterly at home in my own skin no matter what is happening in the greater world.
One other detail about pigeons that delighted me: “they breed rapidly and publicly.”
Not that I am going to take on that kind of behavior, but the idea of being all of who I am, me, in my very own skin and letting all that breed “rapidly and publicly” filled me with delight. What kind of world would this be if we all learned to trust and live our own instincts, not worry about the rest of the flock and listen, truly and deeply to the songs of our unique souls?