Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain


by Janna Leyde

Oscillations: Driveway Yoga

Well, it took awhile to find myself on the other side of this. I spent my last weeks in New York (ahem… Brooklyn, too) with my heart on autopilot. I swear it was the only way. I’m an emotional little being, and I had to keep the pressure from rising. Eventually there were tears, crossing the bridge, away from it all (you can read about that here).

And now, here I am starting this Pittsburgh transition with a month at my parents’ house. Family time, country air and space, bull frogs that sing you to sleep and big fluffy pillows that beg for a good nine hours, the first nine hours sleeps I’ve allowed myself in years—truly a delicious and healthy recipe for big change. “Willful change,” as father corrects me.

True. I put this all in motion, happily so. Yet, here I am, and I can’t figure out what’s going on. I’m so supremely lost in one of the most familiar spaces imaginable—this hometown of mine, where I know all the people, all the bells and whistles. I know that good yoga is few and far between. I know that avocados are still considered exotic ($2.19 a fruit!). I know that coffee still comes in Styrofoam and good wine in boxes, and where to buy the cheapest motor oil (poor, poor traveled Honda). I just have no idea what I’m doing here.

“You need to do some yoga,” my mother tells me on Monday, day one of the transition. I smirk, shake my head, and whine about how “there is no good yoga, Mom!” I’m whining. I’m sleeping in. I’m eating junk food. How old am I again? She leaves for work and I’m left with a half-pot of coffee, my father and his Golden Oldies station screaming at us from the living room. Some part of me wants to shoot myself. Instead, I get his out and ask him if he’d like to practice.

“Driveway,” he says, so we set up shop in the driveway. He throws my mat (the worn out travel Manduka is a better grip for him) out with same force he used to use to fling a ski rope wa-ay out to the skier. I comment on just that, and we laugh. He stands on the mat in his slippers, looking at me like he’s getting away with something. I shake my head and off the slippers come, but not the socks. I shake it again and we’re finally down to bare feet. It’s a beautiful day outside. Shining sun, birds, cotton candy clouds, barn cats. It’s a day where the last thing I want to do is teach.

We om together. We lunge together. We sweat and we twist and we breathe together. Nothing we’re doing is a challenge for me, but he’s breaking through to new kramas. Thirty-five minutes evolve into two long languid sun salutes. We do this same thing again on Tuesday, and I decide this is going to be a 30-day thing, complete with notes and some research.

On Wednesday there is a new teacher teaching a basics class at our gym at 8 AM. I get up super jazzed. Yoga, any yoga will do. But it’s new, and it’s the day before the holiday, and we’re in Mercer… I’m the only student that shows up. And since I’m a teacher, the teacher and I chat. She idly rolls up her mat, and half an hour into what would have been the class, she asks for my e-mail, because she’s really into my New York-ness and my Yoga for Brain Injury stuff. She’s got some Iyengar training herself.

I take back my $5 bill at the door, stop to buy every ingredient for my Fourth of July pretzel salad at the grocery store, and drive home looking forward to driveway yoga, because, for now, that’s the only place that makes sense.

Janna Leyde is a yogi and writer living in Brooklyn and the author of 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. When she’s not on her mat or at the front of the room teaching, she is working on her second book about yoga for brain injury. You can buy her first novel, He Never Liked Cakehere


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