Off the Mat: Walking on Air – April 2018

Off the Mat: Walking on Air

Photo credit: Eugene Goffredo

Browsing for books for a friend’s toddler, I came across the Science for Babies picture book series and was reminded of this exchange from many moons ago. Putting his squirmy wormy legs up the wall next to his changing table, my oddly polite two-year-old states, “Wawk up dere, peese.”

“Walk up the wall?” I confirm his intent.

“Peese. Wawk up dere and over dere and down dat side.” He gestures to illustrate his intent to climb the wall and cross the ceiling.

My freeform self wants to encourage this outside the box thinking. My anxious self flashes to headlines of fatal falls from fourth floor windows by kids wearing blankie capes, attempting to fly. Must I teach my child about gravity? The thought is so…heavy.

It’s not that I’m opposed to limits. Far from it. Painted hands and feet stay on the paper, not the floor. Splashing stays in the tub. Hitting in all its variations (punching, kicking, butting, et al) is not allowed.

Yet somehow it saddens me to think I must tell my child he can’t walk on air.

Each year, we retell the story of his birth: my water breaking 2 weeks earlier than expected. How I made a cherry pie that afternoon (Why? Still can’t answer this one.) Poppa’s abrupt exit from his office. The long night. His joyful arrival, left fist first, the power salute.

This year, he joins the telling by injecting his own narrative rather than his usual barrage of questions. He shares his “memory” of squeezing through a squishy red tube, curious about our voices outside, thrusting his fist like Superman. There are cultures where people accept these details at face value. Here? We smile at his imagination.

As a kid, I read and re-read Madeline L’Engle’s novels, reveling in their mysticism. As an adult I discovered her nonfiction essays and memoirs. While much is too doctrinal for me, the mysticism still resonates. In one, she shares early, early memories of visiting her grandparents’ home each summer. Of walking down a particular staircase without touching the stairs. She writes that she doesn’t know how she did so, just that she did so. Repeatedly and with joy. As an older child she tried to do so again but couldn’t remember how.

Limits versus possibility. Yoga teaches it is conceivable to have both. Necessary even. Too much stability and I get stuck. Too much flexibility and I lose form. On my mat, vibrant energy flows when I find the sweet spot that balances effort and relaxation, weight and ease, stability and lightness.  Roots and wings – borrowing an image from some poet or inspirational magnet. Teach my child to be safe and encourage his boundless energy. A good aspiration for parenting, off the mat.


Ginny Hamilton

Pain specialist, yoga instructor, and Reiki practitioner Ginny Hamilton teaches simple & proven techniques to release pain & restore energy in the workplace, group classes & private sessions. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice.

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