(excerpted from Surya's email to San Diego Yoga Community, June 2007)
A few days ago, my wife and I were sitting on a really high cliff looking over one of the world's largest rivers, Yenisey. It runs through my home city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia and, over the ages, has carved deep and beautiful canyons on both sides.
Our cliff is about thirty miles up the river, south of the city. We can see five or six miles out, maybe more if it wasn't for the distant haze, which comes from the smoke of many chimneys in the village below.
Here, at this particular point, another river called Mana flows into the Yenisey, creating a huge delta. Natural beauty is so stunning that for the first few moments upon seeing it one is left without words.
I have to remind myself to breathe. The air is very clean, so we sit down quietly and breathe deeply for a while. There are impressive mountains with ancient forests all around the river delta.
We notice several hawks circling around, riding the warm air, and trilling to each other. My wife counts nine of them. Our cliff sits so high that most of the time we are looking down at the hawks soaring and spiraling over the water.
I begin to follow one of the birds with my eyes. It rarely flaps its wings. Its connection with its environment, the air current, is perfect. The control of its body is flawless. Each minutest movement of the wing is intentional and in the moment.
I wonder to myself: Could the hawk be practicing yoga? Could it be in meditation?
I continue to watch it for a long time, until the sun dips its lower edge behind the far-off mountain silhouette. I draw my attention away from the hawk. My mind is very calm. I thank the hawk mentally for sharing its meditation with me.
It's time to go to make a light dinner, and prepare "Banya" (traditional Russian wooden sauna).