After three days of being stuck inside due to the winter storm that left 2 inches of ice on roadways, hot yoga felt so comforting last night. I enjoyed the friendly chatter with fellow yogis before our group practice began. Instructor Breezy called us to the top of our mats, prompting us to raise our arms and breathe in. And just like that, the chatter plunged into silence.
All I could hear were the ocean waves caused by the deep inhales and exhales around me. There’s something magical about all of us stopping our day in unison, letting go of whatever keeps our minds racing. Our breathing seems to send a wave of compassion over ourselves and those around us. With those first breaths, we embrace the stillness and prepare for the movements to come. That lightness, consciously letting go and surrendering to the moment, is what keeps me grounded, less anxious and more positive about this thing we’re all in together – life.
This may sound cliche, but it’s amazing how yoga has helped me be more zen about things. I ran across this quote the other day (Madonna was given the credit): “Yoga is a metaphor for life. You have to take it really slowly. You can’t rush. You can’t skip to the next position. You find yourself in very humiliating situations, but you can’t judge yourself. You just have to breathe, and let go. It is a workout for your mind, your body and your soul.”
That assessment definitely rings true for me. With our mats as our grounding stations, we move forward, sideways, backward and even fall down. But it’s okay, because we can always come back to our center point and try again.
My grandmother died in October, and while she was 91, bed-ridden in a nursing home and had reached a low quality of life (at least by the realm familiar to us), her passing wasn’t easy on our family. I helped my aunt and mom plan and go through the funeral journey. My brother and his wife were able to fly out from San Francisco. It was a special time for our family to be together, and I’m so grateful my work family was understanding, allowing me the time off.
One of the hardest aspects of her death is living in the space she once called home. My grandfather died in 2005. They had lived together in the house for more than 5o years, and after his death, she lived there until 2010 when she moved to the nursing home. I’m surrounded with their things. I remember playing the card game, Memory, at the kitchen table with her and “Hotel for the Rich and Famous” with my grandfather in his office. I have put my touch on the house, for sure, but there are reminders everywhere of the times our family has shared – from the oil painting of the mysterious lady whose eyes follow you as you move about to the silver tea set that would rattle when my brother and I chased each other. The memories are everywhere.
My aunt, mom and I recently cleaned out my grandfather’s office. We revisited some treasures and uncovered some new ones. There’s nothing like discovering letters and pictures that your loved ones thought important to keep. I had no idea they saved the post cards I sent them 16 years ago on my travels to the British Isles. And the sweet Christmas gift tags with personalized notes – so sweet.
We kept some things and threw out other things. I was so proud of my aunt for taking on the task. It was healing for all of us, but especially for her, I think. Stopping, breathing and letting go. There really is something magical about it so that we can continue flowing on our individual mats through life.