Jittery with bitten nails, a jumpy heart rate and too many coffee refills, I knew there was only one way out of this state — yoga.
Must do yoga.
It was this thought that prompted me to race around the house one recent morning to try and make a 9:15 class (even though exercising at my own pace on my own schedule is much preferred).
There was just enough time to get there, though it required skipping that next cup of coffee, which wasn’t a strong selling point for getting out the door.
Yet, I resisted that coffee, made of freshly ground beans in our swanky new Italian coffee machine, and left for class. For without it, I couldn’t think straight (the yoga, I mean).
My head was busy and in need of slowing down. Thoughts were scrambling over one another and in some cases skipping, leaving them completely unfinished.
There was a nasty tension headache caused by teeth grinding that needed dealing with, as did the small space between the eyebrows that hurt from furrowing.
It was Tuesday and I needed it to be Friday.
As a regular visitor to yoga (which to be clear isn’t the same thing as being a dedicated yogi but, rather, a person who regularly starts and stops yoga), the benefits, such as improved flexibility, strength, focus and relaxation, are indisputable. However, the slowness of the practice can be difficult for a certain type of person, say a Type A-ish, coffee addicted, deadline driven kind of person, for instance.
The first observation I made after arriving was that the class was filled to the brim, which made me think of coffee.
Then I was annoyed at the students taking up more space than they needed and those who had placed their mats in such a way that disallowed room for others.
While rolling out the yoga mat in an awkward spot at the back near the arm weights, a curse word or two rose to mind.
Soon this was interrupted by a soothing, transcendent voice that carried through the room, guiding the students into a gentle pose.
“Try to identify where your tension is,” the instructor said.
OK. It is here. And here. And it is in this spot in the upper back and along the neck, where deadlines live. And it is in this room where nobody makes room for anybody else and out on the streets where aggressive pedestrians hog the sidewalk ... It is everywhere.
“Try to locate your breath,” the purveyor of calmness purred. How the hell does she do it? Exist so calmly? Is she rubbing it in?
I went searching for my breath and panicked when I couldn’t find it — until I realized it was being held, gated by two tightly sealed lips. It released like a balloon gradually losing its air.
Soon, from behind the hoods of my eyes, tears were forming, though they weren’t the kind of tears that would come streaming out right there in the middle of class making everyone uncomfortable.
It was the feeling that arrives when one’s breath deepens and connects to the mind, the relief of sifting through all the junk to make a bit of extra room for clarity.
Yoga, as it does brilliantly, had begun its familiar process of ironing out the stress and of lengthening the limbs and the neck — especially the neck. It began to unwind the mind.
Still, nobody would say I was relaxed or ethereal as I rolled up my yoga mat thinking about what had to be done next, but it was a start.
A week later I returned to class without racing out the door. I found a nice spot waiting for my yoga mat. My nail beds were slightly smoother and my mind a little less like a jumpy Chihuahua than it had been.
When the instructor asked us to locate our breath, I found mine right away, eagerly waiting for deep inhales and exhales and, for one full hour, I successfully set aside thoughts of deadlines and to-do lists and yes, even that next cup of coffee.
Read more by Tanya Enberg! Try these: We Stayed in a Tiny One-Room Cottage and Somehow Survived, Is Becoming a Mom Better in Your 20s? and 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting a New Mom.