When Gratitude is Practiced
I started taking yoga this year and I look ridiculous. I chose yoga because, no joke, it was the cheapest excercise class I could find. It was weird and uncomfortable at first and I rolled my eyes at all the breathing we did and the nap we take at the end. And speaking of cheap, do I really need to pay someone to tell me to breathe and nap?
Apparently, I do.
On the inhale, move.
It turns out all that breathing has to do with paying attention and staying present. I suck at that. My head is constantly spinning in 84 different directions but is rarely just here in the now. But at yoga, if I’m not here and now and breathing, I’m on my arse.
On the exhale, move.
At the beginning of class we have to “set our intentions” (eye roll) and mine is always for strength. “Each breath is an opportunity to connect,” the instructor tells me as my brain synapses fire with each strange movement of my muscles bringing me straight to Aidan. In the breath and finding space in each fiber of my being, my body acknowledges how connected it is to his. I’ve had my first injury that seems to have resulted from the body mechanics necessary to his care.
I mirror Aidan’s movements as he walks, but he requires more of one side of me to hold him center. My body gets lopsided and out of whack in response to his weakness. As I breathe and stay present I hold gratitude that my body works for me in this most fundamental way, holding my child close to my life.
As I move from Cobra to Down Dog then hang like a Rag Doll and rise up strong to Sun Salutation, I feel each articulation of my spine. Articulations that Aidan doesn’t have. His spine stays in place, moving as one piece when needed. I notice that feeling, a twinge of strange guilt for what I’ve done to Aidan’s body in the name of healing and perhaps sadness that he won’t experience this freedom of movement. It doesn’t matter that I can rationalize it away so I’m accepting that complex feeling as my companion.
My attention is also drawn to the microscopic successes he’s had, all too slowly for me, with his new body. My body is strong and Aidan’s works hard for him. While there’s a world of complicated thoughts and feelings in between, I use my breath to keep them from ovewhelming me. I find myself breathing more throughout the day, releasing tension. And the staying present and noticing, this is the place where gratitude is born.
And to totally change the mood, here’s what I’m generally thinking during class (subscribers click through)…