Inhale, exhale — is that really it?

“Slow down, calm down, don’t worry, don’t hurry, trust the process.” ~Alexandra Stoddard

Finally back on my yoga mat today! Boy, did it feel amazing. But just as I had to take a break from running for my knee, this break from my asana practice has been crucial for my shoulder. To feel pain-free and still graceful/powerful on my mat was reassuring of my intuitive connection to yoga. It was like being a kid in a candy store, except a brand new candy store where I had to rediscover and navigate my way to all my favorite candies. Reinventing ourselves is where we extend our awareness and shine light on the things most important to us because we feel from within, “this is good or this is just not right.” For me, yoga is good, very very good!

At the beginning of class, the teacher spoke of how the principle goal in yoga is the focus on the breath. And it dawned on me how simple but profound INHALE and EXHALE can be. The energy in the entire room softened and enlivened when she said, “exhale everything.” It’s not like she’s some magical healer. No, she is just there to remind us to remember/celebrate/stretch our existence. Americans spend thousands on lululemon, yoga classes, retreats, manduka mats — over priced qi shall I say. And all of those dollars, time and effort is invested to feel the bliss of a quiet, but expansive inhale and exhale cycle. Those yogis from India sure fooled us…but we are hooked, myself included. I am hooked to the equanimity that arrives from tackling the numerous paradoxes of yoga. The strength and the gentleness. The grace and the wobble imbalance of holding a pose for multiple breaths. The extension and contraction. The forward-folding and the back-bending…It all comes down to the fundamental process of breathing. How freaking cool is that?!

Today, I learned to honor the beautiful sensations and minute internal details that come from slowing down. When I “slow down, calm down, don’t worry and don’t hurry” I am more powerful when I have to speed up. My normal tendency is to convince myself that if I slow down, I will lose all strength to continue forward and improve my practice at whatever I’m doing, including on my mat. I was reaffirmed today that actually, forming gaps between force accelerates my momentum. This is where the last statement in that quote rings true for me: “trust the process”!! And I guess when we don’t know what else to do, it really is as easy as INHALE and EXHALE.

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