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In harmony with nature: Yoga with leaves, flying bird poop and kittens

In harmony with nature: Yoga with leaves, flying bird poop and kittens

A brown speckled leaf wafts down in a whirligig and lands on my eyebrow. I love to see leaves fall, I like to hear them rustle and I enjoy the sounds of thousands of multi-coloured mixed-species leaves that litter Delhi streets. As seasons change, lights change and as my moods fluctuate, I spend time by the study table, not working, not typing, not creating but looking outside the window. I watch yellow, brown, rust-colour, and sometimes red, leaves detach themselves from mother trees, and float into a new life.

It is a time to ponder, to recollect and reminisce the decades gone by, the good and the bad you did, and was done to you. The loves that breezed into your life and left like tropical storms.

I inhale the change of seasons. I seek visual pleasure as an ever-changing Delhi sheds its colours and wears new ones. The silk-cotton tree with its thorn-studded trunk unleashes a thousand shiny white balls that float aimlessly, and when the time comes, it also unleashes a barrage of large red-orange flowers which deep dropping on the roofs of parked cars with a large 'thud'.

<img class="wp-image-27306 size-full" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/DelhiLeaves.jpg" alt="DelhiLeaves_RahulKumar" width="1000" height="666" /> The change of seasons in Delhi brings a myriad leaves floating down (Photo: Rahul Kumar)

This Holi festival in March, I found an elderly gentleman with his grand-daughter pick up the blazing red-orange flowers of the silk-cotton tree. They want to soak the flowers in water, squeeze out its natural red pigment for the much-awaited colourful festival of Holi. The duo, set apart by two generations, made for a beautiful picture as I saw them collect the flowers tenderly from the ground into a big polythene bag.

I find the neem tree fascinating as it begins to turn yellow from green, and in a matter of weeks the ground is carpeted with a thick layer of crispy, zagged bright-yellow leaves. Blessed to live in a leafy residential area with dozens of trees to give company, often, I find the leaves almost everywhere – on the roof of the car, inside the bonnet, on the windshield and sometimes on the driver's seat.

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Once I drove ten kms with a baby lizard who had dropped from the branches to rest on window wiper.

But we have to come back to the story of the brown speckled leaf which landed on my eyebrow.

I would be most happy to welcome the leaf but it was not an opportune time. This brown fiscus leaf came wafting exactly when I was doing yoga. My eyes were closed, was concentrating on my breath and had attained the perfect pose – a half spinal twist lying on my back when the leaf landed on my eyebrow, and stayed there.

<img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-27308" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/CatYogaMat-768×1024.jpeg" alt="CatYogaMat_RahulKumar" data-wp-editing="1" />

It make me twitch and caused some irritation but I let the wandering mind come back to the immediate task – to observe the breath and hold my pose with elegance. With the monkey mind under control, I forgot the fiscus leaf resting on the forehead.

A little while later, I heard a splotch. It was a big spatter, distinctly close to the ear. I opened up the nearest eye and found, to my luck, that a two-inch blotch of white-green star-shaped poop had missed my face. Close as it was, I could feel it was warm and fluid. I thanked the Adiyogi—the first yogi, Lord Shiva—that the bird's bombing did not hit me directly.

Over the past few days, the yoga mat has taken a number of bird poop hits. I seem fortunate to have escaped the direct assaults by parrots, the starlings, the doves, babblers, the squirrels and other residents of the trees whose names I do not know as yet.

In less than a week, from my perch on the yoga mat, I have witnessed the blue beautiful skies, colourful ceilings of myriad leaves, flowers hanging from branches, the squawk of parrots and the querulous cacophony of the jungle babbler. I have also enjoyed the squirrels chasing after each other, unknown species of birds flying in formations, butterflies flitting around flowers and sometimes a solitary crow sitting in wait.

My first experience of outdoor yoga has been exhilarating. What has converted it into a soothing experience have been spots of sunlight warming parts of your body as you stretch out, concentrate on breathing, still the mind and focus on holding the yoga poses.

With the winter knocking on the door, I plan to clean up the yoga mat of the bird poop—green-white blotches, spirally-yellow dried up crusts, cylindrical black-white markings and other poop designs. I plan to practice indoors as the wintry chill runs up the spine.

Am happy to escape the leaves and the bird poop while doing yoga. Indoors, I have to save the yoga mats from the kittens who love to sharpen their retractable magic claws on the yoga mat. And sometimes, the snail that might coming walking by from the indoor pots..