It is that time of the year again… you know, the time when we all talk of renewals, resolutions and new beginnings. As a yoga teacher, I teach breath and meditation, so I do believe that every new breath could be a new beginning. Every moment is a chance for renewal. The New Year is a pretty arbitrary date where we simply, culturally as a cohesive unit, choose to remember this possibility.
So I will not talk of resolutions, I believe that topic has been chewed down to pure bone on mass media. I will rather talk of breath and perspectives. My yoga practice gives me a chance to breathe and take a break from my busy life. This hour for yoga has quite a paradoxical effect. I am not sure if it relates to quantum physics and time space continuum with alternate realities, but it happens every time. If you are a yoga practitioner then you are familiar with a feeling: You are super busy, running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you declare yourself that you have no time for anything and somehow, in the midst of hysterical sprint sessions between your job, your family and who knows what, you drag yourself to yoga class. I don’t know how the rest happens, but magically, even though you took an hour out of your day for yoga, after your practice you are more calm and have time for everything… As if time slowed down and shifted paradigm. How does this happen? Magic?
Some of you may know that I am also an avid runner. It was during my last short vacation to Joshua Tree National Park where I had a revelation about this mystery that happens in yoga class. My husband and I try to look for amazing trails to run during our vacation. We pack our running backpacks full of liquids and lunch and head out for the day. Now before you think I am some awesome athlete… let me just burst that bubble right now. I love to run because I love the view, I love nature and I love the discovery. I love to feel my lungs working, the wind on my skin and the elation that comes with hard work. But as far as speed or measuring performance and all that… I really don’t give a squat about that. As a matter of fact, I hate it. I am running to forget about performance and to feel the moment. And that is a good thing because I am really slow! I mean really slow… Now my lovely husband on the other hand who was an ultra-marathon runner at one point is like a grasshopper. Since he is kind enough to keep his pace to a fast walk during our vacation, I am ‘kinda sort of’ able to keep up running behind him. Yup, that is right, I am not shy to admit, I am that slow and I don’t care. I love running. You may call it whatever you wish, I feel that I am running.
Now that you have the right picture in your mind… my husband in front of me, walking at a light hopping pace, while I struggle to keep up with at what to me feels like a steady jog… we head out to the desert. I love the desert. You have to hike past the tree line to get that kind of view in Western Washington. In the desert your vision always takes you far out to the horizon. Joshua Park is surprisingly diverse. Elevation and vegetation changes keep the trails full of excitement. It was during a long haul with much uphill that I hit the wall. If you are a runner you know the feeling. Your legs turn into lead, every step is a weightlifting championship, you are hardly breathing and your vision is restricted to the path right under your foot… All I did for many minutes is stare at my feet shuffling what was for sure not more than a foot and a half distance of a stride with every step. My thought narrowed down to the next step, focused onto the agony of heaviness with an occasional insertion of fantasy about food. OK, so maybe not so occasional. When I hit the wall I have this habit of loudly talking out intricate menus of many favorite national dishes. I know nobody is listening, but I find comfort in visualizing a good lamb curry in the middle of the desert. It was during one of these self-deprecating fantasy sessions that Regan turned back to me and said: “Look up and take a deep breath! You are hardly breathing.” So I did, I looked up and I took a breath. All of a sudden my being shifted from the agony of my legs and the view of the dusty trail to the most breathtaking views on the horizon. I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world but did not notice it till that very minute. As my gaze soaked up all that was right front of me, my mind slowly shifted from the challenge of my muscles to the beauty that my eyes were taking in. A funny thing happened at that moment, I realized that though I am still aware of the heaviness of my legs and the many miles still ahead of me, I felt light, spacious and happy. I had a shift in perspective from my small self to the greatness of life. I smiled so wide I could not believe it. That’s it! This connection to the greater picture of existence is the same mysterious paradigm shift that my yoga practice allows during the busy day. When I am so caught up in the next thing to get done, when I am so focused on my own business, when I am restricted in my vision to see only the long road ahead… A yoga class is like gazing up at the horizon and realizing what is important and beautiful in life. And all too often the beauty is right in front of us, we just don’t see it because we are focused on being busy.
Thus with these thoughts in mind. I am wishing you a year full of breath and new perspectives. I am wishing you to see past your goals at the end of the trail and enjoy the journey!