The Gifts of Yoga

I have started this post several times over and then time got away from me. I had to postpone writing it over the weekend, so it’s going to be a compilation to reflect the last four days and my resolution for all four is the same:

Days 21-24: Enjoy and pursue further the gifts yoga has given me.

In Gates’ book he revisits the same quote by Einstein for several days; pulling a different message from it each time. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but yoga has given me four distinct, yet intertwined gifts: Awareness, Balance, Flexibility, and Strength.

Yoga has made me far more aware of many things in my life. It has probably impacted me in this way more than the flexibility, strength, and balance it has given me. I am aware of my body and my breath and this trickles over into my every day. On Tuesday night last week, while teaching class, I was extremely aware of the fact that one of my legs is longer than the other. I was in standing forward fold and had to continually pick one of my feet up in an attempt to rearrange my position and make myself feel even. It didn’t work. I had to remind myself that this was not my practice.

I am inherently aware of my body landing and moving when I run; my pacing. Friday morning on my run I was very aware of my breath. I kept Truffle Shuffle turned down a little to hear the noises I make when I run. It was a lesson….it always is.

I am aware when I teach at the college that my meditations with the class are interrupted by my need to keep an eye on the clock. I am aware that they are watching me and that while I need not judge them, myself, or allow their judgements to affect me…..that I’m still always aware.

As I get older and more practiced I am more aware of what I need in life. Part of the reason for this 30 days of resolutions is to become more aware of what I do need more of and what I could do without.

On Friday, the gift of awareness spread to my running more than anything. I had run the same course 11 times over the previous 19 days. Only twice had I broken 9:00/mile on the run. I know that some of that has to do with my body, the weather, time of day, etc. But I think that not hitting it that morning was more about me being bored with the route than anything else. I have another route of the same distance in my portfolio of runs on MapMyRun, so I vowed to change courses. On Sunday I did and I crushed it. It was smoother and easier even though there were hills. It wasn’t as routine as the other course had become and that made it more enticing to run. It was a course I’d done many times before, but it was a change of pace that I needed.

My weekend was packed, busy, with birthday party prep. I picked my mom up on Friday and went nonstop until she left Sunday evening. I needed the strength to get through it all. There was cake making and cake pop making and cookie making and pie baking and dinner to provide. But more so than the mental strength, I needed the physical strength on Saturday. We constructed a new bed for the birthday boy that day; assembling the project that my husband had built and I had painted; now inside the house in pieces. There were challenges to surmount and heavy things to hold up. Thank goodness for all of the arm work I’d done that week to help me feel prepared for that challenge. I also stood most of the day and by the time it was over…….I was glad I’d skipped my morning run.

Sunday drew on my flexibility of character as well as body. I had to squeeze in to the back seat of my Honda Civic between two car seats for more than one ride that day. I felt like Elastigirl. It was a 5 year old’s birthday party at our house and the first time we’d done party games and a pinata. I kept hearing myself inside my head saying…..breathe……it’s alright if it’s not perfect…..if it’s not all done. I felt myself enjoying the time at the party more than I have at any previous birthday experience. I feel like I smiled more that whole day. Maybe it was the change in course on my morning run; maybe my yoga has finally started to invade all of the little spaces of my life I need it to touch? I even turned over the camera for the party in order to try and get in some shots.

Throughout the whole weekend I looked for balance. Balance in the way that I handled tasks and also handed them off. I really leaned on my mom and my husband to pull things together with me, but also tried to hold my own. Some of that balance meant not running Saturday morning so that I could ease into my day. Some of that balance involved not running this morning when completely exhausted from the weekend. It also involved me getting back into some semblance of routine today with the kids despite the actual birthday being today. There was lunch dessert and dinner dessert, but there was also quiet time at home instead of more exuberant celebrations from the day before. The day was special, simple, without confetti and fireworks, just calls and texts from family and friends and a lot of snuggling.

Yoga has given me the awareness to step back and realize how great I have it. It has also given me the awareness to look forward to the future; to examine the present and keep things in check; and to let go of the past where I cannot change things. Yoga keeps me balanced and teaches me to be flexible in life. Yoga has made me stronger, but has also allowed me to be me more and therefore cultivate strong relationships and perspective.

On this yoga journey, this path to enlightenment, the last four days have made me feel like the road ahead is not so long…..

What was the best day of your life?

What has yoga/fitness given you?

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