Airports are my happy places.
This might sound strange, but it’s the truth—airports are places of comfort and adventure, of not-so-comfy but familiar seats, of the feeling of family bonding time and the smell of Auntie Anne pretzels and the sound of planes touching down and lifting off . . . airports are truly comforting.
My dad was an Air Force Pilot and still flies for American Airlines, so airports are places that I’ve acquainted myself with ever since I could remember. When I was little they were places of adventure; I would imagine the people walking by me to be secret service agents getting on a flight to Beijing in their black, classy clothes and expensive sunglasses; or celebrities with their entourage, walking leisurely around the airport grabbing Starbucks and chatting unconcernedly; or great people I did not know, flying across countries in private jets or on first class, changing the world with merely their presence. When I got a little older, these people were still mysterious but they were also less fantastical; my little sister and I would sit on our chairs and watch the people walk by, guessing their life story and deciding where they were heading.
When I went to college, the travel slowed down. The only airports I visited were the ones that took me from college back to my home; and I didn’t fly with my family anymore, either. I would fly by myself. The airports got a little less familiar, and a little less comforting. Adventure was rarely thought of.
But oh, the view in the air! The clouds, when they were there, seeming to fill up the whole sky. The ground so far away, and so different with each passing minute. The dying light of sunset burning sky and cloud and plane all together in one slow burst; the dark of night, where the only sound in the whole sky is the humming of the plane. I began to live for these moments of seeming bliss, of different perspective, of what I believe to be a glimpse of enlightenment. When I practiced yoga, that feeling I found up in the sky I would take to my mat—and slowly I would find it in small things like supta badha konasana when you lie there on the ground with your feet pressed together, your hands at your heart and belly. I found my mind clearing in this pose more easily than any other. Maybe it was because it feels like you’re looking up at the sky even with a ceiling—because with your eyes closed, your imagination comes to life. When I close my eyes, I see the burnt orange of sunset—and clouds. My mind stills. After all of the asanas, or poses, in yoga, supta badha feels . . . enlightening.
Yoga, to me, is similar to the difference between being in airports and being up in the air. Sometimes, the asanas feel adventurous and exciting. Sometimes they feel familiar or comforting. And sometimes—and this might happen more than we like to admit—the poses that we do feel stressful or challenging or lonely. But oh, the feeling of savasana! It makes everything, good or bad, worth it. More than worth it. The feeling in savasana is a culmination of the feelings of our practice, given to us in a potent but relaxed state, so that with these feelings come objectivity: we can sit back and see what we have found within us and through that objective view we can find change or breath or understanding, depending on what we need most. Airports and asanas; air and attainment.
Now, when I go back to airports, adventure is back. Comfort and imagination is back. The realization that yoga has brought has given me the tools to know that even when I fly alone, I’m flying to be with my family. Just as in yoga, even as we do poses alone, we do them to help us be more present with the people we love. Asanas are there to prepare us for savasana; and savasana is there to free us from negativity. The people that we love do the same.