I wake up on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 5:03 am, by alarm, which I quickly turn off. Mat and rug and clothing is on the front room futon, and coffee (I caffeinate pre-practice, a habit I'll surrender eventually) is made in the kitchen, in back, via french press. I take maybe 6-8 ounces of coffee with me on the 20 minute drive from my house in southeast Indianapolis to our self-practice room which is in the western mid-city.
I leave the headlights in the car off until I'm turned around and on the way. Some mornings I'll let NPR roll, but often I want less language, less rationality, so I'll switch on whatever mix CD is loaded. This morning it was all 1980s, so "Crockett's Theme" on the way up, with some Prince after, and then Springsteen and Madonna on the way back.
At the early 5 am's in June, on the westernmost edge of the Eastern time zone (because Indiana really probably should be Central time but isn't) dawn begins at 5:20 or so and the sun begins to turn the sky from blue toward whitish yellow at 5:50. So as I drive east to a street that has a highway onramp, and then well west onto I-70 so I can get to I-65N, it's green-blue dawnish on one side of the car, and black night on the other. I've seen that light in Austin, Texas, and St. Paul, Minnesota, and of course a ton of times in San Francisco, and in a few other towns besides, but here? What the hell am I doing in Indianapolis at this hour?
This ritual drive makes a familiar road (because I take I-65 EVERYWHERE; its cross with I-70 is why Indiana calls itself "the Crossroads of America") into something very pleasantly disorienting. The buildings look different at dawn, all of those hospital buildings by the trio of hospitals that surround the IUPUI medical campus. The highways lights are on, the S-curves familiar, and of course the exit I take is the same one you take for the Children's Museum, so I've taken it a thousand times also, but again, it's all strange, and it's because I am doing the yoga here. HERE?
I am doing morning practice HERE? How is this POSSIBLE? The novelty is totally compelling. I like practicing at our self-practice space better than practicing at home regardless of "quality" of practice, because of this weird ritual, this sort of transportation through memory and other spaces, while I'm "actually" here. I forget where, when; spaces multiply and time forms a sort of weird French pastry layering system. I become who's, when's. Temporal fugue, double vision, triple vision.
Once off the highway, it's north again, past the museum, north of 38th street, a huge and notoriously crime-ridden horizontal, and suddenly into well-treed lanes and big houses. Money leaves its mark. Fifteen blocks north in there, stop signs and lights every three blocks, and then west into an even more rural area, a little mini-neighborhood connected to the rest of town only by two bridges. Quietness, stone quietness, maybe a bicycle or a woman walking her dogs. Five blocks in, turn onto the stone driveway, there's our humble little practice space. I'm there by 5:45 am. It's still mostly dark.
This is the inside of the room at about 5:30 am, I think from Friday last week.
Today we were three, all in our 40s, and we did Primary series, with one practitioner in back doing some Intermediate also. My two co-practitioners are also regular in my Sunday room. Total silence, aside from a "hi" and an occasional knowing glance between practitioners doing hard poses. Breathing, bending, wonderful practice.
My right hip and left knee are sore from yesterday's hard bouldering, but they're fine, and really, those sensations really helped me crank myself into a deep practice mind. There is a ticking clock in the practice room and I can hear it when I walk in and when I get up from rest, but I don't hear one single solitary tick during practice.
Practice ends for me between 7:20 and 7:40 (late today, 7:40: about 1hr50 for Primary with three heels-up dropbacks, no stands).
By then, sunshine is yellow, the sun is above the treetops, and while the light is big and slanted, shadows long and stretching, it is definitively daytime. We are technically in a stretch of drought here, but it's a beautiful drought, blue sky and sunshine (we'll see how much we like the 102 degrees predicted for Thursday).
I drive back exactly the path I took up there. The highway is busy at 5 am, but it's crazy busy at 7, life is "back to normal."
Let's do this again, let's do this again soon.