For the last month of his life, he struggled; not to live in pain but to die with dignity. As an anesthesiologist who spent 50 years caring for others, he was frustrated that he could not control his own fate at the end of his days on earth. I should and will write a book about this man’s incredible life someday, but today I am writing to thank my Bikram Yoga family for allowing me 90 minutes every morning at 5:30 am to meditate on life and lose myself to the discipline of mind and body that 26 postures have brought me for the last fifteen years.
I don’t know many of you by name, but the familiarity of each of your faces helped me through an incredibly emotional month. It healed me each day as my family and I took turns caring for a man who did so much for so many and struggled with his own breath. The rhythmic pumping sound of the ventilator that gave him comfort reminded me of pranayama. I was grateful to have the 90 minutes of comfort at the studio when I could get an occasional respite.
It was a fabulous opportunity to reconnect with my hometown and my father, who I hadn’t really had the opportunity to know when I was young – he was constantly working, on call, building his anesthesia practice. It was truly a blessing to spend time with him, learning to cook my mother’s classic recipes, sharing stories, and sitting by his side every evening, talking about sports, politics, and life.
I had been practicing Bikram Yoga for ten years before I relocated to San Jose. I had the opportunity to practice in studios around the country and knew that my practice would last as long as my body would allow it. I wish I had introduced my father to it when he was younger – I know it would have brought him a different type of peace at the end of his journey.
The first day I walked into BYSJ, I signed up with Chris, whom I later learned had a terminal illness but made a huge impression on so many, just like my father. It has been an incredible journey. I am not quiet by nature, but I have always respected the culture of silent meditation, which is our practice. I take solace in the discipline and routine, knowing that every day is a new day and that every day my mind and body will react differently. I write this today to let you all know how much I appreciate your gentle smiles and quiet greetings; our shared struggle as we practice individually yet in solidarity. I don’t know how much longer I will be staying in San Jose and practicing with my 5:30 am family, but I will cherish every minute I get.
As we laid my dad to rest next to my mother, with whom he was finally reunited after 20 years, I asked my family to stand up and hug each other to verify the love and compassion this man brought to the world. Today I share that hug with all of you.
Namaste, Tim Yee