Sunshine and Rain

Monday July 29, 2013

Written by: Maria Finnegan, Group Exercise Instructor

I always have a plan for my yoga class…usually an anatomical focus or a specific sequence that I want to explore. I try also to link that focus to a less tangible theme….such as contentment, acceptance, love, etc.

Tonight, driving to yoga, I had no theme. In fact, I had no focus. I was completely lost in self-thought…and it was mostly self-judging. Of course these thoughts usually have a catalyst and that could be any of a number of things from the past week…. my one year old broke his arm and is in a cast for the next 5 weeks, my 5 year old has cavities, my kids were all crying when I left to teach because they didn’t want me to go. Take all of these thoughts at one time during a quiet drive and it can be a very negative experience.

And then it started to rain. Like little taps on my shoulder, the drops hit my window interrupting my self-criticizing stupor, telling me to pay attention….not just to my driving but to what was and is going on around me. The thing though that made me really take notice was the shining sun. It was a summertime sun shower. Sunshine and rain. At the same time. There was my theme…right in front of me. Opposing events, emotions, feelings, can and do exist at the same time. It can rain while the sun is out. In a physical yoga practice, there are many opportunities to experience this duality of emotions and feelings. Relaxation can coexist with exertion when we focus on the breath in and the breath out. Even in a super-challenging posture, we can find calmness by releasing tension from somewhere in the body. In Mountain pose, we press down into our feet and “grow roots,” but we also lift up through the spine and through the crown of the head. In any of these situations, two or more opposing feelings arise and we figure out a way to deal with them. We breathe, we release, we acknowledge, we accept.

So I had my theme….but tonight my personal yoga practice began before I even stepped on my mat. It started in the car when I saw that rain and had to squint from the glare of the sun. As I drove down route 40, I thought about my one year’s old cheesy grin he gave me as I took a picture of him with his Carolina blue cast. He was totally being silly, even though he had experienced pain. My 5 year old was bummed about his cavities but he was also really excited about watching his favorite movie during his next dentist appointment. I realized that my kids cry when I leave because they love me a lot. (and evidently their tears dry up as soon as i leave the driveway according to my very capable and wonderful husband who lets them watch cartoons as a treat when mommy is gone to teach!) This is life right…sometimes it’s complex and sometimes it’s simple. So we breathe in and breathe out, whether we are on the yoga mat or off and maybe somewhere between the good and bad, the joy, the pain, the sun and rain, we might just see the rainbow.