I was taking a yoga class before the world shut down. I chose yoga to increase my flexibility and within weeks I could bend at the waist and plant my palms on the floor. I wanted to be stronger, improve my balance, and I was starting to see improvements.
During class I realized that my goals were side benefits to what they were trying to teach me. The instructors kept emphasizing the importance of breathing. I’ve been breathing for a long time, and I’ve never paid attention to it, but they urged us to feel the texture of our breath and let our breath flow in and out of our bodies like a tide. As I inhaled and exhaled, I focused on the movement of my breath until ….
The instructor called out positions that were difficult to hold, required more strength or balance than I was capable of. Before I could maneuver my arms and legs in the right position, the instructor announced the next pose. Their recommendation to anchor myself with my breath seemed ludicrous.
The class was cancelled, but I didn’t forget the lessons. I’m doing the Downward dog and the Mountain pose. Struggling with the warrior poses. I’m keeping flexible and working on my balance.
What about the breathing you ask?
I keep coming back to that in my head. Wondering why breathing was the center of the attention. Breathing centers us. Focusing on breathing enables us to rise above our primitive responses and take control of our emotional responses. What if the positions and one-legged stances are purposeful distractions? What if we’re supposed to learn to remain committed to our breath, despite what is happening around us and to us?
And then I looked at it from a bigger perspective. Life forces you into difficult positions, pulls from you more strength than you believe you have, and it throws you off balance. It’s happening right now. So what can you do when the world turns you upside down?