You may know by now that I have a love/hate relationship with yoga. I love the idea of it; I love the benefits of it, but I hate actually doing it sometimes because it’s difficult; it’s slower than I would like, and I typically forget to breathe. Every time the teacher reminds us not to hold our breath, I find that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
So today when I walked into yoga class and the teacher said, Happy International Day of Yoga and Happy Summer Solstice, I almost had a panic attack. I know there are a lot of teachers who will do 108 sun salutations in class to celebrate this longest day of the year.
I have actually been in a class a couple of times where that happened, and I didn’t feel like I had enough in the tank to do it today. As it turned out, even though we focused on that particular flow, we did not get to a count of anywhere near 108. And it was one of the best yoga classes I’ve ever attended, which says a lot because despite all my whining and complaining, I wouldn’t keep going if I didn’t really enjoy it.
Right before we began, Erin, our fearless yoga teacher, was bandaging her pinky toe, because as she sheepishly explained, she had stubbed it as she was rushing to get to class. She laughingly rolled her eyes at the irony of rushing to yoga class.
We sat on our mats and tuned into our breathing, working on slowing it down. Even though my breath was slowing down, my mind wasn’t, and it brought back the concept someone brought up the other day of Slow Church. Not merely showing up on Sunday morning, rushing around, and then rushing out to the next thing but taking your time. Being aware.
That, in turn, reminded me of the concept I recently heard of - Slow Food, a movement started as a protest against fast food and thoughtless eating habits.
Slowing down. It is one of my goals and is certainly one of the goals of yoga. One of the ways yoga accomplishes that is to link breath with movement. This almost never happens for me, but today it did. Breathe in as you rise; breathe out as you bend through heart center. It was amazing. Since I mentioned earlier that sometimes, OK a lot of times, I forget to breathe in certain poses, this felt like real progress for me.
Another tool for slowing down is meditation and I’ve been wanting to get back to it for quite a while but have felt too busy, too frazzled, not enough time, and 100 other excuses. A couple of days ago someone sent me an app for meditating. This seemed like the perfect impetus to get me back into the game. I think maybe the universe is trying to give me a nudge; hopefully I am growing out of being the type of person who needs a 2 x 4 to get my attention.
Jack Kornfield said, “There is a sign outside a casino in Las Vegas that says, ‘You must be present to win.’” If we want to see the nature of our lives, we must actually be present, aware, awake.” This is also true for stubbed toes!