Health and wellness: The SEVA in me honors the SEVA in you

“I passed by Seva Space for several seasons, scanning the signs and specials, one offering ‘2 weeks of classes for $20’ turned on my dream screen, and projected the idea into the back of my mind, as I moved on.”

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If the heart of downtown is Railroad Ave and First St., Seva Space at 22 Main St., is where palms meet in prayer, at heart’s center.  I passed by Seva Space for several seasons, scanning the signs and specials, one offering ‘2 weeks of classes for $20’ turned on my dream screen, and projected the idea into the back of my mind, as I moved on.  Though having never partaken of Yoga, I had no idea how to use it, or indeed, that its been practiced for several millennia, to quiet the limbic mind, align oneself to stillness and achieve a tranquil meditative state. According to the website, “‘Seva’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘selfless service’ or work performed without any thought of reward or repayment. Seva is believed to advance one’s spiritual growth as well as contribute to the improvement of a community.’ This is my cup of chai.   Personally, this half-year has drifted by, half noticed. I’ve been staring through what I see, heavy to move, and hard to motivate. Personally, I’ve been very low, slowly tearing myself into pieces over a much-anticipated pregnancy, which, for its own reasons, had to move on. Apparently, 1 in 4 women miscarry. I was surprised by those odds and that we don’t talk about them. Like all things that turn out to be gambles, I was unprepared for a dizzying loss. Outwardly, I’m me. But then gooey thick helplessness pervades my brain, atrophying my body, covering my outlook and shading once colorful thoughts. Unbidden and unbridled tears are masked by equally untamed allergies. Both kept me indoors or behind handkerchiefs. I want to move on.  Then, last month, I showed up at Seva Space. Without trepidation, I entered, was warmly greeted and painlessly signed in. I was invited to a clean gushy mat to borrow, a deep cleansing breath to take, and then, to “let it all go.” Space was held for us to dedicate our practice, to honor ourselves and those around us for showing up, because, as instructor Frankie says, “The hardest part is showing up.” Later, her guiding voice said “Inhale, heart shines forward, reach high-sit low: Chair pose. Stay here for a breath in, maybe sitting a little deeper as you exhale.” As sweat skid down my spine, I sat deeper into a chair that wasn’t there, remembering, “The hardest part is showing up.” I exhaled, freeing a loud, delighted, bubble of mirth. It’s the truth: Ignoring is easy, showing up is hard. Finding what the owner Kim Stanford calls, “the balance between effort and ease” is harder still, but – so rewarding. The choice to show up is easier because now I breathe deeper, longer. My inner thoughts are tempered with solutions and self-compassion. Outer thoughts are intellectually stimulated, kinda witty, and super humble. I am more quickly comforted by sleep. My relationships are healthier. I am quicker to forgive myself and others. I show up because now, the charged surging DC current of my emotions is more securely grounded.  Yoga rewards rest as well as endurance. Seemingly simple poses are highly challenging for the mind and body. Gentle confident guidance at Seva instructs the mind to control the breath and the body. Its greatest benefits are different for everyone. For me, I get peace of mind. To borrow a quote from author Chuck Palahniuk, “This is what church should feel like.” Peace, in my mind, is worth more than diamonds. People come from out of town to the many classes at Seva. It is clearly special. I have prided myself on participating in my community, but through showing up at classes I’ve met not only one, but two next-door neighbors and reestablished the dear acquaintance of the first person in Winters to welcome me to their farm and share that feeling of home I still feel all over Winters. Seva Space is for everyone. It welcomes all degrees of ability, shape, color, age, sex or financial means. “We are all having a universal experience, no one is left out or behind… Just, get in here,” says Stanford, a direct and community-driven person. Like every community, Seva needs your participation. There are classes every day, but you never know which one you need. I go daily at 9 a.m., but maybe Yin or Senior chair classes are my favorite. I hope you will participate and support this space with me, within yourself and in our community. See you there.]]>

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