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Water and Fire

What do I do with a day when I don’t have to wake up in the dark?

After a lazy morning of Sudoko, the news, and a breakfast that seamlessly connected me to my Jewish roots (it included coffee with cardamom , smoked herring, and olives), I decided I needed to approach this blog with a fresh approach.

I stepped out of the chocolate towel and into the just-cleaned tub, ready to scrub myself like a Korean auntie would do in Spaworld (this, and the H Mart in the same strip mall, might be the best reasons to find yourself in Centerville, VA).

Drip. drip. drip.  draaaaaaaaaaaah, said the faucet.

I quickly turned to the bathroom sink, and ran into the kitchen.  Then, towel tucked into my pits, I peered out the front window at the obvious culprits, an open dirt pit and a bobcat next door.  Like a fiery jinn, I ran down the stairs (yes, still in that scrumptious towel and scowl), threw open the door to the cold air.

“Que saben ustedes de mi aguuuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaa?????”

The men just looked at each other.  Finally, one muttered about a leak and that it wouldn’t be more than hour.  Upstairs on the phone, the Water Authority told me a different story — a main had been hit, and water wouldn’t be back on until later in the evening.

I spent about ten minutes lividly living in my head, where I daydreamt about engaging in a throw-down with the the one-armed owner of the building next door. (Previous to vandalizing the aesthetics of blocks like mine, Mr. W. was a journalist — one of the first non-military personnel to be treated at Walter Reed, where I briefly taught yoga, and later receiving an award from a foundation named for a slain journalist friend who used to play fiddle at house parties in  pre-gentrified DC.  I suspect that his bravery when a grenade was thrown into the Humvee he was riding might have been what inspired him to go into real estate.)

I walked from faucet to faucet, pointlessly turning them on to see if there had been any change in the status of the main break.

I brushed my teeth with water from my Brita, and indulgently poured the last of its contents into an extra tall glass, polishing it off in a minute flat.

I peed — and then in a moment of clarity, it dawned on me that I never flush after just one pee, so really, my world hadn’t been altered terribly much.

First-world problem, I declared to my napping cat, and felt like a spoiled child for how quickly I can get from peaceful to pissed.  Water is the source of life, totally primal, I reasoned, remembering the movie I saw about a group of villagers who are harangued, harassed and beat for hijacking water away from a government who believes poor people should pay to draw water from wells and rivers that had been part of the commons for millennia.  Water is what’s gotten me riled up.

But really, I know that my internal 0-60 in 3 seconds has nothing to do with water.  Sometimes, it’s a car that cuts me off. (This particularly peeves me because it usually happens when I’m the pedestrian. Unbelievably, drivers don’t seem to have learned minor traffic rules like “yes you can turn right on red, but you should still stop, or at least slow down, to avoid committing murder when there’s a person in the crosswalk.”) Often, somebody will say something, or not say something.  Sometimes, this somebody can even be someone I adore endlessly, and though I have gotten much better at  taking a breath so I don’t react externally with as much grandeur as I once could, I believe that what happens inside my head might be up for some deliberate examination.

For the record, although I often don’t particularly like what anger does to my insides, I don’t advise running from it when it shows up.  Fire’s gift is focus and transformation, and there’s only so long the plateaus feel spacious enough.

Still, in class tonight, we’ll do poses to channel the element of fire and learn to metaphorically collect the rain so it’s possible to sit and watch the flames jump, and still feel the cool breeze on your cheek.




This entry was posted in: Teaching


I'm a yoga therapist and coach who is fascinated by the ways in which scientific inquiry has converged with wisdom traditions in concluding that our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being are intrinsically connected. I try to use this knowledge to help people feel more resilient, courageous and alive.


  1. My image for my own yoga practice today was a beach fire at sunset on the shore of Lake Michigan–in summer, obviously, not our 4 below weather today! This came to me to hold my intention of being present with love & compassion. Fire and water: we need them both; and I love your story Yael–thanks!

    • Absolutely! We’ve got another couple of months of ice, so a little fire can make the shards slide down 🙂 Love how it dovetailed with your intention Elizabeth, and grateful/delighted to be able to share our day together.

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