My first yoga class at the YMCA was surprising. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting. Perhaps for it to be more like the Wii Fit yoga I had experimented with years ago. But the YMCA‘s yoga had moves I’d never tried before, and a live instructor to show me how they’re supposed to be done, and a group of individuals who I was motivated by watching, especially the 70 year old who was as flexible as me. Perhaps more so.
Today, I was thinking back on the value of that first real yoga class, because I had just come through a patch where multiple areas of my life were swept away in what seemed like one foul swoop of a tsunami. I was standing on the shore, looking out over the ocean, not trusting that the tsunami was gone for good. I needed to rebuild, but found myself asking hard questions such as, “What’s the point?,” “Where do I begin?,” and “Where do I go from here?”
The lessons I took away from that first yoga class, were recalled to mind.
1) Breathe deeply. Lying flat on my back, looking up at the ceiling, paying attention to the breath I inhaled into my lungs as it rose under my chest, and into my throat, then exhaling it slowly, I found myself taking stock, reflecting, clearing my head and making space. Space for what? A world of possibility. Creativity could not begin until the debris was swept aside, and a clearing formed again.
2) Every move we made was slow and deliberate. It was about building flexibility, paying attention, and focusing on areas of my body I didn’t know could be reached. Yoga was unlike any other form of exercise I was familiar with. It wasn’t about a major tune up, or a drastic overhaul. Yoga was about fine tuning the areas of my body I was too busy, too fast, or even too active to realize were there. It was about strengthening muscles, and stretching myself so I could be flexible.
Why was that important?
As The Message on SiriusXM satellite radio encouraged, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will never be bent out of shape.”
In the series of storms that riddled my life over the past few weeks, namely a virus that shut down my website, a bad flu that landed me in emergency one Saturday morning, the insecurity my quick departure created in my three year old daughter (who had already lived through the loss of one parent,) the physical weakness the virus left me to recover from, and the discouragement that so many things were out of my control despite my best intentions, I found myself tossed about by every crashing wave, only to be left alone and isolated on an empty shore, cautious, and stupefied as to where to go from there.
In my search to re-discover what the point of life was when it could change in a flash, I knew at least where I needed to begin.
Breathe, stretch, and pay attention to the fine tuning of my being, so when the next unexpected changes of life came I could bend, but not be broken.