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 blog. She also is working on a fab young adult novel you will want to read. And now . . . heeeeeeeere’s Laura!
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.
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.
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.