I took a class from my delightful friend Jane a few weeks ago.
She gave us a practice that was rooted in the teachings of Desikachar. In other words, we made every movement deliberately, on the breath.
And I don’t mean a fast breath like in a vinyasa class. I mean a slow, full breath.
Sounds divine, doesn’t it?
And it really was. As we began the practice, I reveled in my inhales. They were long and lush. I felt like I could inhale for hours.
It was probably more like 4 seconds, but you know what I mean. It was all about the feel of it rather than something quantitative.
Wait, Where’s My Exhale?
After my super long inhale, I was expecting a deliciously equivalent exhale — long and ethereal. (Not sure how ethereal got thrown in here, but it was my fantasy, so bear with me.)
The only problem is that it was anything but.
Where my inhale went on for hours, my exhale was more wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. I blinked, and it was over.
Ummm…Has Anyone Seen My Exhale?
The first couple times this happened, I thought it was a fluke. That I’d get into a rhythm soon.
But as it persisted with no change in sight, I knew something more was going on.
Naturally, I started feeling insecure and defensive. I looked around and noticed all the gorgeous exhales around me and felt bitter at their ease. Sure, all these people can exhale. Look at them; their lives are perfect! I will never have a beautiful exhale. Why can’t just one thing, my breath of all things, come easily to me?!
Clearly, I wasn’t in my right mind.
After my inner brat had her say, I decided to chill the heck out and just continue with class. My exhales stayed short, but my drama around them decreased.
(I counted that as a success, in case you’re wondering.)
As I left class and began driving home, I reflected on my exhales. What was up with them? They were all short and ready to get onto the next thing. If I tried to extend them, I felt panicky and gaspy for my inhale, as though I couldn’t fully trust that it was coming.
And that’s when it hit me: of course. Of course this is what my exhale looks like.
Because this is usually what my life looks like.
If ever a life has been designed as an inhale, it’s mine. I have overdone, stressed and ambitioned my way through much of it.
This is as true for me with my career as dieting.
I rarely let myself slow down without worrying what was next.
As things have started to shift for me, with both work and food, I’ve seen some incredible benefits: I’m more creative, present and rested.
My exhale shows me that I still have more work to do in trusting the process, but I’m okay with that. Because as we moved into Savasana, my longer exhales did come to soothe me.
And I know they will again.