The Power of A Pause
I subbed a class today, and as I observed them over the hour, it became noticeable the need to pause – to take notice of what our body feels like, to notice our breath, and to actually be present. I’m sure they thought I was fighting them, frustrated as they wanted to quickly move to the next pose – because I encouraged them to take another breath before doing so. Even in our yoga practice, I find we take the class because it seems like the right thing to do. I used to run 4-5 mornings a week. I used to do boot camps. I swam 3-4 mornings per week when I was pregnant. Heck, I used to box too. Each of those were great forms of exercise for me at that time. They kept my heart strong and my clothes fitting. I could claim victory in getting up and doing something healthy before work. But most of the time, I did the class to do the class, and didn’t necessarily listen to how my body felt that day. I only noticed my breath to time my stroke in swimming, or when I got that stitch in my side mid-run, or at the end of a flurry in boxing.
My challenge to you today is to notice how your body feels in class. Appreciate its strength in a warrior pose or when you’re in the final sprint, climbing stairs or lifting the weights over your head. Feel good when you can do a little extra, and give yourself a break when you just can’t do what you did yesterday. We’re not machines; we’re humans. Each day will feel a little different as a result of what we ate, how much we slept, our emotions and what else in going on that day.
I also challenge you to queue your senses. When you take your morning/evening run, actually stop, take the ear buds out, and notice something. You’re not cheating because you’re taking a break; rather, you are pausing to notice your surroundings. Notice that the sun is rising earlier and setting later, and that maybe you won’t need reflective gear much longer. Notice if the air feels cooler or warmer on your cheeks and hands. Smell the air. In doing so, you are awakening your senses – allowing the entire body to come alive – not simply the muscles needed to move.
And when the class, the swim, or the run is over, pause again, and notice how you feel. Not just that you’re out of breath from the final sprint, but notice how your body is responding – if you need to stretch, or if you’re feeling tired, or if a part of your body feels better than yesterday. Is there something that has been feeling particularly sore? Are you ignoring it? Should you be?
We often get angry when our bodies don’t do what we want them to, but it’s a relationship between us and our bodies – for them to take care of us we need to take care of them. If we’re paying attention, we can do just that. When we notice things, it becomes easier for us to identify what is out of balance – what isn’t quite right and what we may need to change. Deepak Chopra explains in his book What are You Hungry For?:
“Paying quiet attention to how your body feels is a powerful message, all by itself. Awareness isn’t noisy or emotional. It looks on quietly, and that’s the best state for your body to start rebalancing itself.”
So don’t look at the clock – look at yourself. Take notice of how you feel. Awaken your senses. And be pleased that you are here and your body is moving, and you’ve been given another day to make a difference.