Courtney Brooks

Some days, the dog is doing better and some days she’s not. Some days, I enthusiastically roll out my yoga mat on my living room floor, and some days I drag my feet.

There’s a fancy way to get your feet up to your hands from downward-facing dog. Lift your heels, bend your knees, look between your hands, jump. If you get your hips high enough, instead of crashing to meet your hands you will float through the air and your feet will never make a sound and suddenly you’ll be back in a forward fold like it was nothing. I can do this with ease until the heat of my practice, the time it really seems to count.

Some nights, the dog sleeps. Other nights, she wanders, her one eye damaged from a corneal scratch that will not heal, despite the five medications I have to give her every six hours. She gets up and wanders the house, confused and uncomfortable, until I come out to get her from wherever she has put herself. Some nights, I sleep in my own bed, squished between a stubborn old cat and my husband. Other nights, after listening to the dog’s nails on my floors with a mixture of anxiety and grief and frustration and guilt over said frustration, I sneak to my guest bedroom. I’ve discovered that my husband and I have a guest bed that is nicer than our own bed. Sealy Posturepedic, baby. If I try really hard, I can pretend I’m just on a vacation in this new and unbelievably comfortable bed. I’m actually in a hotel, my dog is not dying, the world is not falling apart before we’ve had a chance to really start our life.

After the bad nights, it’s hard for me to do yoga the next day. I get to the heat of my practice and my living room rattles when I jump to my hands. If I can’t even float, how can I keep going? At the peak of exertion one afternoon, I prop myself up on blocks, even though I am tired and defeated and just want to sleep in my own bed and just want to find a job and just want the dog to recover or die quietly in her sleep, like everyone wants for themselves and their loved ones and their fifteen-year-old dogs. I put my hands on my blocks, throw my right leg up over my shoulder, squeeze myself tightly together, and lift. The pose is astavakrasana, eight-angle pose. I haven’t attempted it before, but this day I do, and I get my legs almost straight. The heat of the practice is usually right before you can do something wonderful, something you never thought you’d be able to get through. The dog sleeps peacefully on her ottoman this afternoon, and I have to tell myself that maybe we’re just in the heat right now. The only way out is through.

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