Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Run like the wind

On Friday, my daughter's school did their annual walkathon. It's the school's biggest fundraiser and kids spend the first month of school getting amped up to run the most laps to raise money. Each grade has 30 minutes to walk. Parent volunteers man check points so that kids can tally their laps as they run. In the center of the big track there is an MC with a bullhorn who keeps the kids motivated and organized. Walkathon day is my favorite day at school and I always volunteer.

With every grade, Kindergarten through fifth, as soon as the music started to signal the kids to walk, 90% of them took off in a run. Not a jog, but a full on RUN. These kids had no concept of losing steam or running out of energy by the end of the half-hour period. They just went for it. As I watched group after group do the same thing, I thought how liberated they all were, how in-the-moment they were all living. Yes, they almost all lost steam by the end. Sweaty, red cheeked 9-year-olds raced by me, shedding clothes, begging for water, with humungous smiles on their faces. They were having a ball!

When I run, the first thing on my mind is pacing. "How am going to get through this whole 4 mile loop?" Sometimes when I teach yoga, students tell me that they want to pace themselves so they can get through the whole class. "Don't worry about pacing'" I tell them "you will get more energy as you go."

As a beginner, this is a hard concept to get-- the idea that, in the process of expending energy, you can also generate energy. Trust the process. You work hard to get into a posture and then hold the posture, and then you rest. You repeat this cycle over and over again. Some days you will need more breaks than the designated resting periods. That's normal. Just like the kids racing around the track needed to slow down or drink water or peel off clothes, so do we need to take breaks during our yoga practice.

As grown-ups, we spend (most of us) the majority of our time being measured, planful, organized. Yoga is a chance to let some of that go. When you come into the practice room, try to shed some of your grown-up skin. Be open to going for it in ever posture. Find the joy in taking that leap, running like the wind. You might be red-cheeked and sweaty by the end, but I bet you'll have a big old smile on your face too.

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