On Tuesday, I bowed to an empty room.
I’ve had a few long-time parts of my life come to a close recently–a natural part of making way for the new.
Some were more painful or messy than others. One of the more clean cuts was resigning from teaching yoga classes at a local church. Attendance had tapered off for a long time, and though recently I’d had some more interest, I knew it was one of the parts of my busy-ness I had to let go of.
When I let my one regular attendee know I was going to not hold classes after Christmas, she told me she’d just go ahead and start yoga at home right away. I informed my other occasional attendees that I’d stopped, and had an earlier reprieve than I’d expected.
I had a key to deliver back, and a letter to post to the others who do yoga classes at other times–but it didn’t happen until that date I’d initially decided on–December 15th.
I came with a key and a letter to people I may never see, who weren’t part of my life. It felt so odd, to look at a space I had no reason to re-enter, and have not got to have a “last time” for closure.
I’d been doing yoga there for several years–it had been a twice-a-week thing for most of those years. It felt odd to just stand there without any goodbyes. I tried saluting, but that felt silly and irreverent. I put my hands in prayer, before my heart, but that felt a little borrowed.
So I went to the actual first thing that had come to mind.
A long, 90 -degree bow, like I was taught for respect in Japan.
Even as I tucked my hands where they were supposed to be, out of practice, I felt tears jump into my eyes. And I knew I’d found a way to know that yes, I was saying goodbye.
Why did it feel right? I don’t know. But humans link physical gestures with certain states of mind because it works–everything from a simple smile to the nuance of a handshake.
Yoga has taught me to be more present in my body–so maybe that’s why it was fitting. To make my last greeting physical.
And as a cap to a long sequence of good-byes, it felt even more important.