Glide, Turtle

P  hoto   by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region

One night late last year, during a yoga retreat, I had the privilege to watch newly hatched turtles rise from their nesting hole on a sandy beach in Nicaragua and begin their young lives at sea. 

A mother turtle comes to land to dig a hole and bury 70-80 eggs, a conservationist overseeing them told us. Fifty-one days later, they hatch underground, climb out, and make their way to the water. (Mom never returns.) Most of the brave orphans get eaten by hawks as they travel through sand, or something else once inside the ocean. 

Despite tough odds for survival, sea turtles know what to do and do it: head to the water. But on the night my yogi friends and I watched, light from smartphones documenting the event and shuffling footsteps as we sought a better view distracted and confused the turtles, disrupting their flow. Conservationists help protect them from poachers and other obstacles along their course, but simply witnessing the turtles' odyssey, we tourists had our own job to do: get out of the way.  Allow sea turtles to follow their course. Realizing our unhelpful presence, we turned off phones, quieted down, and stood still as the trained guides ushered the lost ones home.

Following that lesson, it's been a short leap (or swim) to become curious about where we might be getting in each other's way, or even our own, without intending harm. With each practice, yoga provides an opportunity to de-clutter an environment, clarify direction, set up conditions to facilitate success, and get moving.