Updated: 5 days ago
I stumble into class three minutes late and smelling ever so slightly of timothy hay. I'm coming straight from herding alpacas around all day, then a frantic Schnucks blitz for some essentials, then home to drop off groceries, smooch my husband, and feed my baby daughter exactly four pieces of strawberry before blasting out the door again to the warm, inviting studio off of Main Street.
This Monday night class focused on building resiliency of all kinds (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) has become a nexus of my weekly routine over the past few months since discovering Selah Yoga Studio. After having my first baby in May of 2021, I've been struggling to reconnect with my body, to see it as something that has agency and strength, something that is ok to exist in its current form rather than be subjected to constant change. Risha Hoffman's studio is a place to explore exactly that--to root down into the moment and allow your body to sit in, and move through, whatever you've brought with you onto the mat.
The buzz in the studio today is about the impending winter storm, which seems impossible given the unseasonably warm day we've just enjoyed. "Yeah, the grocery store was a war zone!" I add to the genial pre-class chatter. As Risha calls the class to order and we take our first seated posture, I feel the familiar tinge of pain in my left hip, a residual ghost leftover from the throes of childbirth. My mind starts to cycle through begrudging thoughts about the upcoming ice and snow, trying to cling to the memory of how wonderful today's warm sun felt on my exposed skin--a rare treat for January in the Midwest.
"As we prepare for the winter weather that we know is coming," Risha intones, as if reading my mind, "let's choose to think of it as the great gift that it is." As I imagine the back-breaking task of shoveling the driveway out of 15 inches of snow, I'm struggling to see the gift in the dismal-looking forecast; "first, the rain comes and washes everything away that we've brought with us from the old year." she says. "Then the snow, pure and white, is going to blanket everything in newness, in purity, and beauty. How lucky we are for the reminder that we always have the opportunity to begin again."
I realize that my shoulders have fallen slightly with the realization that she is right; every day, and in so many ways, we are so, so lucky. These kinds of perspective shifts are one of the greatest benefits of Risha's classes; this is so much more than the typical toxic positivity of self-help books or inspirational Instagram posts. This is a deep, look-you-in-the-eye acknowledgement of life's hurts, challenges, and struggles, and a concerted choice to shift them into something we feel we can handle. It's shrinking the calamity of life down into something we can hold in our hands, like a snowball, and watch the heat of our bodies melt it away.
Today's lesson in resilience feels less like "bouncing back" from something and more like buying the groceries, stacking up the firewood by the fireplace, scattering the salt on the front steps, sitting down with a hot cup of tea or a glass of wine, and watching the storm roll in.
Amanda Wilkinson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University where she was the recipient of a Jackson Fellowship and a Teaching Fellowship. She is the recipient of the Gertrude Claytor Prize in Poetry from the Academy of American Poets, and her poetry has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems have been published on Poets.org, in The Journal of American Poetry, Foundry, Flock, The Sycamore Review, Sugar House Review, Silver Birch Press, and The New Territory, among others. Her essays have appeared in AAAA Magazine and The Morning News, and she sits on the Board of Directors for Ruminate magazine.
In addition to writing poetry and nonfiction, Amanda is a results-driven, creative professional with a proven track record of creating revenue-generating content for a variety of nonprofit organizations. Her passion for telling the stories of diverse organizations (theatre, education, literary, etc.) allows her to craft unique, human-centric content that motivates and engages constituents. She is currently the Assistant Director of Development, Annual Fund & Parent Programs at Whitfield School in St. Louis where she lives with her husband and daughter. Little Human Relics is her first book.