I giggle at the absurdity of my
musing and pick up my pace. I’m
not about to be left alone with a
patch of toe-pricking thorns and a
group of indifferent goats. I put my
head down—eyes to the ground,
wondering what else might be
growing, crawling, or slithering
there—and push on.
The sand and shrubs soon give
way to flat, solid rock. The space
opens up, bound only by the curved
contour of rock tops sketched
unevenly on the desert horizon.
Shadows fall behind me and
the sun shines in front, as if I’ve
stepped beyond an unseen border
into a separate time and place.
The tender rays of the sinking
sun swaddle the sandstone, and
me with it, creating a soft glow so
powerful in its placidity I can truly
hear it humming gentle and steady.
The serene scene steals my breath
and stalls my steps. I pause, eyes
My fellow travelers are forming a
crescent on the rocks’ ledge, facing
the instructor and the unknown
beyond. The sun continues to hum.
Come. What are you afraid of? It
Well, for starters, everything, I
I adjust the mat under my arm and
step toward the half-circle of yogis,
half-considering that there is still
time to turn back. But I have come
this far—from Los Angeles to Little
Petra—for something. I have also
brought much more with me than a
Anxiety. Fear. Downright dread.
Stress-induced chest pains
that landed me in a Los Angeles
emergency room. A panic attack
that imprisoned me in a South
Indian hotel room. Depression so
debilitating I couldn’t step outside
my door on most days.
Wherever I went, self-doubt and
fear followed. To be brutally honest,
they took the lead—dragging me
along with them.
I was drowning. Suffocating.
I am now standing on the pale
pink sandstone of Little Petra.
How desperate must you be to
think the desert can save you? I
wonder, instantly embarrassed
by the audacity of having had an
Stupid girl. Look around.
I lay down my mat and scan
the scene. Rocks and dirt in front,
behind, and under me.
They were here thousands of years
before you, and they’ll be here long
after you’re gone.
You are nothing.
I shrink in the vastness of the
space as the sun slips lower still in
Into the Deep
Our yoga instructor begins with
some simple breathing exercises,
and I turn my attention inward.
With each breath, I sink further into
the earth. With each movement, I
surrender to the sun above and the
Breathe. Flow. Move. Connect.
Warmth radiates from the rocks,
and—like a parched desert plant
desperate for water—my toes draw it
up and in before sending it back out
to the sun through my fingertips. My
aching muscles are on fire, my soul a
current that pulses in sync with the
soft hum of the sun.
We move to our final shivasana
(the corpse pose, intended to induce
restoration and relaxation) and I
close my eyes. My muscles throb, my
PHOTO CREDIT (ABOVE): ANDY AUSTIN