A few weeks ago, as I wrote my last post about balance as not-falling, I very much had yoga on my mind; I’d gone with a friend a few weeks before that to the first class I’d taken in years. (How many years? I just did a search to check; according to this blog, at least, it’s been nearly 5 years since I’ve practiced at all consistently, which means probably 4.5 years since I’ve been to a class at all.)

In any case, that one class with my friend made clear how much every part of me had tightened and weakened, how much range of motion I’d lost, how generally contracted I’d become. And so I had in my head the idea that I needed to get myself back into a yoga studio, one I could walk to, one I would walk to, one that might help me find my way toward a better way of being in my body again. And then, a day or so before that post, I had a conversation that began to close the circuit, the one about rebalancing my priorities in a way that would not be once and for all, but would be part of an ongoing process of coming to value my life outside of work as much as (if not even more than) my work itself.

So when Sean responded to my hints about yoga by reminding me that physically balance is about limbering and strengthening in order to create a basis for stability, it was the final push I needed. I found my yoga studio, a pleasant four-block walk from home, went for my first class, and was almost instantly convinced that I’d found something crucial to my overall wellbeing.

I’ve gone to four or five classes a week since then, classes of different styles and levels of difficulty, some of which were more satisfying and others of which were more challenging. I’ve worked through different kinds of soreness, uncovered some surprising places in which I’ve stored a lot of tension over the last few years, and have generally begun to find my way toward a quieter, calmer mind.

I think that calmer mind had a great deal to do with the amazing week I just finished at work. Some of the week’s amazingness was pretty far outside my control; difficult situations resolved themselves positively in ways that I could not have forced. But other parts of my feeling about the week had everything to do with my ability to let go of the hard bits, to begin to relax a bit more in difficult positions, to recognize that whatever unpleasantness there might be can be worked through. That none of it is a permanent condition.

One of my favorite instructors in my new yoga studio has a practice of asking us to set an intention at the beginning of each class, something that we can draw our focus back to whenever we find our thoughts running back to our to-do lists or the other worries we’ve left outside the room. I’ve tried to use that process both in and outside of class as a means of reminding myself to be here now, rather than falling back into the past or pushing forward into the future, to feel what I am feeling without the fear that it will last forever and without worrying about what’s coming next.

I’m facing a number of uncertainties in what’s coming next, and I’m not at all sure what choices I’m going to make or where they’ll lead me. But learning to focus on being here, now, is allowing me to consider those uncertainties with a bit of distance, and even a bit of excitement.

3 thoughts on “Intention

  1. I sat down to write this just now because I’ve just come from what was probably the most amazing yoga class I’ve ever taken. It’s a gorgeous day here in New York — crazy beautiful — and I guess everybody else decided to spend some time outside, because I was the only student who showed up for the 11 am restorative class. So it was just me and the instructor, for this amazingly slow, focused, hands-on hour. There were moments that were a little scary — without other students to draw her attention, she’d see everything I was doing wrong! — but having all of her attention really helped me figure out some key things. I am so happy that I didn’t miss it.

  2. Beautiful. It’s as hard to write about yoga as it is about religion or god – in other words, it’s easy to sound like a complete nutter – but what you’re saying resonates with me (and thus, of course, what you’re saying must be true, right?) I envy you the hands-on class – what a scary gift (in the nature of all the best gifts, I guess). But also I envy you the yoga class & the awareness that, yes, if you lean into what’s hard and just fucking BREATHE DAMMIT, sometimes you can slide slowly into being where you want to be. I hurt my shoulder about two months ago, doing what, I do not know (I’m currently blaming bad chair/desk ergonomics), but there’s been no yoga for me. I’m feeling all crunchy and constricted. So at very least, would you go to yoga class and stretch slowly for me?


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