Space to Breathe

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Space Series

Today, we return to the Space Series with a post by the always amazing Laura Sibson. (The first post in the series can be found here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here, and the fifth here.) Laura has her own blog, and is no stranger to this blogShe also is working on a fab young adult novel you will want to read. And now . . . heeeeeeeere’s Laura!

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Years ago my two closest friends, along with about a billion other people, started touting the benefits of yoga to me. But it’s so . . . quiet, I protested. So . . . slow. Where’s the cardio rush? At that time, I was not a human being so much as a human doing, running all the time—literally running miles around my neighborhood, running late to appointments and running the preschool parents association. Stillness was not an option; silence freaked me out.

In my mind, yoga was for old ladies and I planned to try it when I became one. But a bit later, when I was having trouble rehabbing a running injury, those two friends (one of them a runner like me) finally dragged my sorry butt to yoga.

“Breathe,” my teacher would say. “Breathe.”

She was reminding me to breathe? I breathed frequently, I thought. Several times a day at least.

“Stop holding your breath,” she’d say. “In through your nose. Feel your belly expand. Breathe space into your heart.”

Into my heart?

“Again,” she’d say, pulling in an impossibly long breath. “And out.” She’d whoosh the air out.

My inner-rebel wanted to hold my breath for spite, but I was stuck there so I tried it.
Guess what? It felt sort of . . . good.

“The breath itself is the real practice,” my teacher would say as she moved us through the series. “The poses are simply strung along the breath like lights on a tree.”

I turned myself over to her guidance, moving my body and breathing in concert with her spoken words. I pulled breath in deeply, held it and then let it flow back out of my body. I closed my eyes. I found space.

triangle-pose

You know what they say about the power of the converted, right? After my introduction to yoga, I was hooked. Here I was, the same woman who’d criticized it for years and suddenly, I was an acolyte. It seemed that I had been hungry for something that I hadn’t even identified. My yoga sessions became an opportunity to discover the peace that had been cowering in a corner of my soul while I’d been busy, busy, busy—pursuing endeavors that would prove that I was smart enough, strong enough, (fill in the blank) enough.

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Sure, the newfound peace came at a price. I had to feel feelings, but by laying the uncomfortable stuff in the sunlight, I found that it wasn’t so dark and twisted as I’d imagined. And then there was space for a version of myself that wasn’t defined by how well she balanced the world on one shoulder.

By slowing down to consider what I truly wanted as opposed to what I thought others wanted of me, by giving myself space to reflect rather than act, I was able to give myself permission to pursue what I’d always wanted: to write fiction.

Some people might still describe me as a human doing and to many, I’m sure my life appears full to packed. The crucial difference is that I choose to give my time to what I love, rather than packing my schedule full of obligations. I’ll admit that I’m not fully evolved yet. Stillness remains difficult for me. But I’ve come to relish the possibilities that arrive with silence.

Warrior pose from trainwithjess.wordpress.com. Sun salutation from theactivefamily.blogspot.com. Triangle pose from yoganika.com.

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45 thoughts on “Space to Breathe

  1. When I was a postman there used to be a customer who would be doing tai chi in the front garden in the morning. If I had a parcel for him he would sign for it in in a series of slow motion graceful moves. He would not come out of his ‘zone’ (or his ‘space’) until he was done, not even for his Amazon book.

  2. Pingback: Space to Breathe | Laura Sibson

  3. ‘By laying the uncomfortable stuff in the sunlight, I found that it wasn’t so dark and twisted as I’d imagined.’ What a fabulous, brave discovery, Laura. The possibilities of silence. Beautiful.

  4. “The crucial difference is that I choose to give my time to what I love, rather than packing my schedule full of obligations.” – That’s the key right there! Glad to hear you’ve found a way to do that. I’m trying to get there, but it’s a WIP. 🙂

    • We are all a work in progress, right? It’s difficult to say no to people in my life so that I can protect my creative time. I reason that it’s better for everyone if I’m less available, but happy than completely available and impossible to be with 😉

      • Well, in some ways I think that it’s hard for everyone. People with no kids have other obligations facing them. I have a friend who is expected to care for her mother because all of her siblings have kids. But thanks — I am making good progress, but I have had to turn down social invitations and look at the writing as a job. Except that it’s a really fun job where I can wear my pajamas 🙂 If only I got paid for it…

  5. My 17 year old daughter loves yoga and I am thankful for that because she is high-strung. I tried gentle yoga but unfortunately having Fibromyalgia and RA, I ended up in more pain. All the positions and movements hurt! I finally had to give it up but have kept doing the meditative part of it and relish the silence and calm! Good for you for sticking with it and now loving it! 🙂

  6. Thanks for this — on a related note, when I am in a yoga pose, I notice much more acutely the sounds and other sensory stimuli around me, and the world becomes a much more beautiful and surprising place to live in than it is when I’m, say, banging away on my keyboard. The pose creates the space for things to arise into consciousness that would have gone unnoticed otherwise.

  7. Great post, Laura! Finding that space where you can allow yourself to be yourself–and stop being who you think you should be or who others want you to be. That’s seems to be the major theme in my life right now. I have to get back to yoga. I used to practice regularly, but I’ve let it fall away. And it is so helpful.

  8. Pingback: Safe Spaces | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie

  9. Just stumbled on this post after Melanie mentioned it in one of hers. I’m picking yoga back up again and I love it. The emotions can be a bit intense, but there’s something so powerful in it. Awesome post, Laura. 🙂

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