Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain


by Janna Leyde

Oscillations - Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

Yoga and brain injury are going to have to take a back seat this week. That’s what uprooting, unplanned, and unwelcome disturbances do—they trump our routine.

We’re in the thick of an election, the week of Halloween, under a full moon, but a tropical storm rolls in and that is what matters most to us. The whole world (at least my whole world) is texting, tweeting, posting, and calling one another about #sandy.

We’re gathering around fallen trees and fallen bagel shop awnings Instagramming stills of #damnitsandy. We’re standing in lines longer than usual at coffee shops (thanks for putting up with us, Cafe Pedlar), sharing storm surge videos on our smart phones with strangers, and bumping into friends we haven’t seen in ages. We’re all out there checking up on one another to see who is underwater, who has power, broken windows, smashed cars.

And then we’re all smiling and hugging as we find out that most of us—all the pets and all the people—have been kept safe from Sandy.

Is that what hurricanes are about—union? Did we need another lesson in bonding, because weren’t we all just here a little over a year ago? I know I was, hunkered down with my roommate, the two of us surrounded by bowls, vases and bathtubs that were filled to their brims with our reserve water supply. We watched the news, stayed wary of the windows, and tweeted about a proper excuse to eat Doritos.

Yoga is about union. Brain injury is like disaster. I learn from those two all the time, when I want to and when I don’t want to. And if this past year has taught me anything, it is that things happen—things we want and things we don’t want—so that we can learn from them. Yet, what was there to learn from this mess that had affected me (and my apartment, my car and my friends) much less than so many others?

#cabinfever. That should be a more popular hashtag. #damnitsandy has shut our city down, cooped us up by warnings and weather.

I woke up happy to know I could walk to Mala, happy to know that Angela would be teaching the 9:15 class. The sidewalks were carpeted with leaves and the streets eerily quiet. On the walk over to the studio I started to feel horrible. People had no power, damaged homes, crunched cars, and I’m all La-de-da… let me just climb up over this ginormous tree trunk splayed across Hoyt street and get to class. Was going to yoga the wrong thing to do the morning after? I had a dozen unanswered are you okay? texts. My friend in the financial district was submerged, and I knew other friends without power, which meant no cellphones or computers, which in this day and age is pretty unbearable.

Once inside the studio, I felt embraced by the chatter of Mala yogis, all of us sharing our thoughts on Sandy and trees and surges and power and safety and rescue and gratitude. The space this morning was filled with such authentic warmth, everyone with a want to give—physically or energetically—to those in need from Sandy’s wake. Could all two dozen of us, sitting on our mats, setting our healing hurricane intentions, really create a shift for others?

One can hope.

Sandy has torn a lot down, but she’s taught me to believe in something bigger than our fears or her destruction. There is a curious power that we experience when we simply get together for one another.

Janna Leyde is a yogi and writer living in Brooklyn. When she’s not on her mat or at the front of the room teaching, she is working on publishing her first novel, He Never Liked Cake, a coming of age memoir that tells the story of growing up with her father’s traumatic brain injury. Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain offers her perspective on the practice through the lens of the complex human brain.


About The Mala Yoga Blog

We are a Brooklyn-based studio that focuses on alignment, balance and community. Have a read, try one of our Practice Podcasts, or come in and say "hi" in person!
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