Knit Tightly, Hold Lightly

By Stephanie F. Earls

There is an invisible web woven in groups, in yoga, in life. From time to time the classes I’ve taught have lost members to life change/flow or injury/healing or birth/death. Likewise, I’ve been a student in groups that have resolved or classes with teachers who’ve retired or moved. I’ve also had to make my own changes as life has redirected me. Whether by our own choice or by causes beyond us, long or short term, these changes force a shift that reshapes our many webs; taking us out of some and into others. In yoga we are guided to hold dear the things that matter while not suffocating ourselves or others with our hold. Yoga philosophy names this notion of non-attachment, aparigraha. It can manifest physically, such as when we prep for headstand and weave our fingers tightly at the webbing while we hold our fingers lightly over our hands. In both the physical and the philosophical, as the yogis say: knit tightly, hold lightly.

Recently, after receiving word of the passing of one of our beloved studio regulars, my Tuesday night class circled around. In our own ways we honored her with our voices and blessed her in our hearts and minds. It was a spontaneous and subtle emanation which I hope she could hear and feel from where she is. She held a part of the web at our studio. As the weeks pass we still feel her light and glow and we miss her in the place she held. Processing her loss brought to the forefront for me, how each of you, each of us, present and past/passed hold a dear place in our web. The echo you create calls forth gratitude in your void and in your presence. You matter.

It’s for each of us to say whether the concept of non-attachment is physically/psychically/emotionally easy or challenging in practice. The opportunity to practice is abundant as things change. Beyond the aforementioned student, life lately has shifted for so many people in my classes and communities: several loved ones lost, dear ones moved away, hearts and minds changed, schedules anew. The fall has been full of births and deaths in literal and figurative ways. We practice: knit tightly, hold lightly.

We welcome new arrivals to our classes/lives/hearts and concurrently for those who have left, feel it when you’re gone. Our groups feel the shifts because the corners of our webs that each individual holds include the intention, sometimes unspoken, that we choose to practice together. Regardless of how much or little we “actually know” about each other through talk or information, we feel and know each other deeply because we show up with a gentle willingness to move our bodies, be aware of our breath and practice feeling alive. If you are not here now the resonance of your spirit keeps your spot(s) humming. At the studio, each class knits tightly a weave all its own, a uniquely beautiful collection of people, insight and healing. We are here for each other, each of us teachers and each of us students.

Interwoven, we know and hold each other while we do our soul work alone, together. Collectively we agree to come to practice, to be vulnerable in the same space, and to trust. As individual as our work may feel, in a yoga class (in life) we weave this web of safety with each other. Even for the most introverted and private of us (so many yogis are), when we come together and move through our breath and our body, our individual and collective intentions weave the invisible web of knowingness through each of us. It becomes our strength, a source of nourishment and reprieve. We hold each other and bring each other along, some coming in and some going out, in practice, with diligence and repetition, knitting tightly, holding lightly.

(This blog was originally published by Stephanie on It is republished here with her permission.)