I was flat on my back on a yoga mat when the instructor said she was contagious.
That got my attention, though by that time I was exhausted.
It was the second time in my life I attended a yoga class, due to the gentle persistence of my stepdaughter Aubrey. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I was watching Aubrey closely to see what positions I was supposed to attempt, and how to get there. Aubrey moved easily and with grace; I think I resembled most closely a rusted old backhoe in desperate need of oil.
Hence, my exhaustion.
The instructor, Leila Dylla, seemed incapable of exhaustion, moving around the class, demonstrating moves and poses, all the while keeping up a steady stream of motivational, humorous and encouraging chatter.
My own breathing had no leftover energy for words.
As we rested and cooled down, Leila said she was contagious, and that it was her goal to be contagious, lamenting that the word is usually used in a negative way, but can have a very positive connotation, and she wanted her good will and enthusiasm to spread to our class, and to people she meets in life.
She is an admirable ambassador for her mission.
What she could do with her body in simple, smooth moves made my joints ache. And not because I could come close to replicating the moves, just the realization that I might get into that position, but the knowledge that I would then spend the rest of my days stuck in that position.
And I’m fine with that. The stretching and exercise was what I really needed on a day where my engine was firing on few cylinders.
But more than that, I was taken by Leila’s enthusiasm for life and for the life she has chosen for herself.
It is refreshing to run into a young person more enthused about their work than they are about chasing the buck and the latest fashion.
Now, I don’t know much more about Leila, but she was exactly as contagious as she had hoped to be. And she made me more aware of my own potential for being contagious and gave me a boost towards being more mindful of that potential.
These are times where social media and what passes for news spreads a contagion that is lethal and laced with negativity, bigotry, misogyny and racism. That contagion has infected much of our country with fear and pessimism.
Resting on a yoga mat in an environment of contagious goodwill and positivity it was easy to embrace the enthusiasm Leila shared.
And that too is exactly the right word, enthusiasm.
It means, “possessed by God, inspired,” and I would say she shared that gift nicely.
I’m sure these old backhoe joints will be aching for a few days, but I’m also sure that if I take care to embrace the experience, the goodwill and inspiration will last much longer.