One day you are living your regular life. For me this was a mixture of carting my kids around to various lessons, teaching yoga classes, running the day-to-day operations of Breathe Joy Yoga, possibly having to figure out dinner, going to sleep and starting the cycle all over again. Granted, there were days when there were more things thrown into the mix, such as doctor’s appointments, a trip to Whole Foods or OfficeMax or maybe a minor crisis or two to deal with at the studio or on the home front. Life was busy and most of us can relate to this.
I thought I knew what busy felt like…until someone picked up my life and shook it. I call this the Snow Globe syndrome. Suddenly I didn’t know when I would touch ground again or where I would land. And, no matter how hard I tried to dig my feet deeper into the snow, the force of change was just too powerful and up, up, up again I would go — into the air with no grounding in sight.
In my case, the snow globe started shaking when my incredibly talented 12-year-old son Noah was offered the lead role of Billy Elliot in the National Broadway tour, “Billy Elliot.” For our family, there was simply no other choice: Noah had to play this role and dance, act and sing on the big stage. It is his passion and who are we as parents to extinguish this in our children?
So this was a no-brainer. It was a resounding “YES” to taking the role. Then the snow globe started to shake. Vigorously. Accepting the role was just the first part in all this change. Accepting the change was yet an even bigger part in this role called life, my life. First of all, I would need to go with Noah on the road, leaving behind my yoga studio, my husband Joel of less than two years, my 16-year-old son Ethan, my 10-year-old step-son Jacob, and my dog Phoebe. It meant I would have about six weeks to tie up life as I know it, including hiring and training someone to manage Breathe Joy Yoga, hiring a cadre of new yoga teachers, figuring out a plan for Ethan to live between our house with his step-dad and his dad’s house one town over, getting all the paperwork in order for Noah’s on the road education, hiring dog walkers and dog sitters for Phoebe and a bunch of other things. Oh, and I didn’t yet mention that my major home remodeling project started just a month ago, meaning my house is being ripped apart as I write this. As the universe would have it, I hadn’t done a thing to the interior of my home since I bought the place almost nine years ago. It was circa 1980s chic. And yes, there is no such thing as that. So, for months we have been planning this remodel and alas, the work began days after Noah got cast as Billy. But the snow globe was already shaking so putting the brakes on the remodel was not an option.
There you have it: everything is changing. One month from today, while my physical home is still being remodeled, I will be living in Los Angeles, then New York City, then Des Moines, Iowa, then somewhere in Wisconsin and so on, and so on, and so on. Noah and I will literally be criss-crossing the country and Canada. I have no idea where we are staying as the touring company is in charge of that. So, I don’t expect the snow globe to stop shaking anytime soon.
About this time you might be thinking: what does yoga have to do with all this stuff about shaking snow? A lot, actually. Yoga teaches us that we don’t have to be in or at our physical home to feel grounded. Our only true home is inside of us at all times. And we can find hOMe by connecting to first chakra energy.
There are seven chakras running from the base of the spine to the crown of the head and each one is associated with different physical and emotional balances and imbalances (to learn more about the chakra system, I recommend the books Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith and Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss). The support of our family of origin and community is related directly to the first chakra, also known as the root chakra.
First chakra energy is inherent in our connection to family, which sometimes includes ethnic and religious traditions. These rituals and traditions help form our identities as we grow up. This is also formulative to our emotional and mental health. On a physical level, we primarily feel this “rooted” and “grounded” connection through our feet, legs, spinal column and bones. On an emotional level, our connections to family and community help support our mental and financial survival, as well as our ability to stand up for ourselves and stay strong in the face of adversity. First chakra energy manifests as a need for order and structure in our lives. And a balanced first chakra leads to a feeling of safety and prosperity in the world.
Knowing that I soon will be away from my physical home, community and family already feels as if my first chakra is being ripped out from under me. Order and structure is disappearing day by day. I have to keep reminding myself to feel my feet on the ground. Yoga asanas like Tadasana (mountain pose), Virabhadrasana I and II (Warrior I and II) and Tree pose (Vrksasana) are just some of the standing, grounding poses that I have found particularly helpful over the past month. (A good basic book to learn more asanas is Hatha Yoga Illustrated by Martin Kirk and Brooke Boon.) In addition, I have found meditation, pranayama (breathing techniques) and simply pausing long enough to stand tall and feel my own two feet particularly helpful as well.
Through all this change, yoga reminds me that I don’t have to be physically home or with my family to feel at home. As long as I keep connecting and grounding within, it doesn’t matter where I go or where I am living. I will always be hOMe regardless of where the snow falls.