Amy B. Smoyer, PhD

Prison Food, Incarcerated Lives, Health & Social Work

Remember the Ladies


Yoga practice involves bringing your body to the mat, day after day, and seeing what happens. The motions are more or less the same, but they often feel different and may vary from the right side to left. The idea is to be aware of what is there, without judging it. "This is what my practice feels like today."

Writing a dissertation is very similar. Every day - or every three or four days depending on distraction - you bring your mind to the data and see what happens. Sometimes it's more of the same, and sometimes you notice things you never saw before. Twisting and turning the mind in different ways, observing your reactions. Hoping you don't topple over.

True of life in general, I suppose. I go through the same motions every day - bed, coffee, contacts, drive, sit, drive, sit, bed - yet my reactions vary enormously.  

Earlier this week, for example, I was driving from work to Javier's school when I saw a tall. lanky 8th grade girl, about 14 years old, who I have known for ten years. She was walking alone down the street with what seemed like a sense of calm purpose. Not rushed, but deliberate. Comfortable. A common day occurrence, a habitual motion, that struck me at that moment as extraordinary. The images and information that I have recently ingested about women's lives in New Delhi changed the pose. I found myself in side-crow, breath shallow.  

But how long can you really hold a pose?  Before you know it, you are in legs-up-the-wall, taking your breath for granted. No judgement.