A few weeks ago, I taught my last outdoor yoga class for the season.
It was a wistful, misty morning with fog rising off the damp ground where we had placed our yoga mats. It was the kind of morning that always reminds me of Tennessee, my birthplace and home for eighteen years.
In elementary school, my mom would drive me up the winding roads of Lookout Mountain where a thick fog would sometimes form at the base. As we drove up the steep incline, we would eventually emerge above the fog line, placing us “Above the Clouds.” (I use quotation marks here because the phrase refers to the name of an actual Civil War battle that occurred on Lookout Mountain) In the span of only a few minutes, we transitioned between three different worlds: the world beneath the fog, the fog itself, and the world above.
Years later in middle school, I often started the day sitting on the banks of the Tennessee River. The school I attended abutted the river, and there was this one perfect spot with several benches that I just loved. Most mornings, I would watch the fog hover above the water before “burning off” and dissipating into clarity. It was hauntingly beautiful.
My father is fond of quoting his friend, the writer and theologian Fred Buechner, when he refers to ancient Druids as having a special interest in “in-between things.” He describes fog, or mist as one of those things which allow us “to glimpse the mystery of two worlds at once.”
I was reminded of all of this when I set up my mat for that final class weeks ago. When we started our initial warm-ups, fog surrounded us. It was grey, and spooky, and gorgeous. As we practiced, the fog lifted, and by the end, it was a clear, bright, sunny day. That single hour had taken us through two worlds at once. The whole thing felt like one giant transition.
Here we are in another transition, hunkering down for what many predict will be a very difficult winter. But winter really isn’t here just yet. We are in the middle place, the fog, the in-between.
There are lots of in-between moments in a yoga practice as well. The way you get into a pose, the way you exit. Settling into class, and departing. That beautiful spot right between inhale and exhale. This is what I am going to focus on during this season of in-between, both in my life and my yoga.
Fog is not an easy place to be, but I will do my best to recognize it’s beauty, its mystery, and allow myself to sit right in the middle of it.