6.30.2015

Times of Change, Times to Breathe


I've been interested in yoga for a long time. I've had opportunities over the years to join a class here and there and each time I do, I've gotten something wonderful out of the experience and I've promised myself to do more yoga. And then I break that promise to myself. . .until the next opportunity arises to join a class, get something wonderful out of the experience, and promise myself to do more yoga. How often do we make a promise to ourselves. . .and then break that promise? A promise to take better care is not the same thing as taking better care—of oneself, of a loved one, of one's creativity, of one's art, of one's soul, of anything. The only way to take better care is to take better care, and to do so requires some, if not a lot of, change.

Earlier this spring, after a long hiatus (aka procrastination), I got myself back into the gym, and to assist myself in changing my routine from no exercise to a routine of exercise, I work with a trainer (someone to whom I feel accountable and someone with infinite patience!). Every week, Jay encourages me to push myself a little deeper, a little farther, a little longer--and I have to admit, I seem to be getting stronger, I'm more confident, and I'm becoming more disciplined.

Change of any kind is profound. It can be great. It can be gratifying. And it can be hard. Really hard. The change from apathy to exercise--the change from promising myself to take better care to actually taking better care--has been profound both physically and mentally. It's been great. It's been gratifying. And it's been hard. Really hard. 

So, I'm going to the gym. And then a few weeks ago something unexpected happened. I woke up very early my first morning in Taos, New Mexico, where I was attending a creative retreat, took a walk in my gym clothes (the hotel had no fitness facility), and found myself in front of a yoga studio. The flyer said a class, suitable for beginners, would be starting in ten minutes, drop-ins welcome.

Open the door? Or keep walking? Open the door? Or get breakfast? Open the door? Or read the manuscript I had in my bag?  Open the door? Or. . .?

I opened the door.
 
During the class, held in a beautiful space that felt at once new and safe, I stretched, twisted, and balanced. I didn't go very deep, very high, or very low, but I did what I could do. There were things I could do well (realizing that being back to the gym was helping me enormously), and there were things I couldn't do at all (realizing that I am just not as in shape and flexible as I used to be). Then, as the instructor guided us from a stretch that was already making my muscles tremble into a new stretch that promised to do something even more dynamic (aka OMG!) to my muscles, she said,

"Keep breathing as you change your position. The one time most of us stop breathing is during change. And it's at times of change when we need to breathe most of all. Change can be hard. Change can be uncomfortable. But instead of quitting, keep breathing and see if your breathing can actually help you find comfort in the change."

Her words coursed through me. In the moments it took for me to slowly change positions, I was brought back to the March day five years ago I launched drydenbks; to the winter morning ten years ago I first got on downhill skis; to the May day six years ago I got laid off; to the late afternoon eleven years ago I held my dying father's hand; to the unseasonably warm February morning seventeen years ago my mother died; to the day in the wintery woods thirty years ago I first knew I was in love; to the August afternoon thirty-nine years ago I got my first period; to the October morning forty-three years ago I took the public bus to school all by myself. Times of exhilarating and excruciating change. Times of hold-my-breath change because breathing felt terrifying. Times of change I knew would change everything forever. Times of change I knew would change me forever.

In those moments in yoga class, those memories of times of change flooding back at once, I exhaled, then breathed deeply and purposefully through the discomfort of the dynamic (aka OMG!) stretch, confident I would be okay in that stretch (trembling muscles and all). As okay as I was during all those times of change in my life that I hadn't thought about in years. As okay as I was that freezing evening four months ago when I signed up to train with Jay. As okay as I was on the day a few weeks ago when I opened the door to the yoga studio. As okay as I will be through whatever times of change are coming—and they will come. I'll be okay as long as I keep taking better care and remember I have what I need to transform the uncomfortable into the comfortable by breathing through the change.


(c) drydenbks LLC, 2015

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