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Turning Inward

by Diana McCown

How are you?

I mean seriously, how are you doing?

If I were to answer this question, the response would vary by hour, by day, by week. My average day looks totally different than it did a month ago. In fact, it has taken a roller coaster of emotions, and completely changing how I move throughout the day to figure out how to be in this new normal.And I’m still not sure I have it figuredout. Part of changing my daily movement included pausing my yoga teaching. Hitting the pause button on teaching was not my first choice but a necessary choice. In complete honesty, I needed to figure out how to hold space for myself,and my family, before I could figure out how to hold space and teach a yoga class via zoom. I had to attach my oxygen mask first and to do so I had to turn inward and let go of some of my prior routine. Have you figured out how to attach your oxygen mask in the midst of this crisis?

If you have not given yourself permission to let go of the routine from a differenttime, go ahead give yourself permission. Do it now.

In timesof crisis, I find my yoga practiceshifts away from asana (physical postures) and towards pranayama (mindful breathing) and pratyahara (turning inward). Yoga is so much more than the physical postures, today’s western culture readily associates yoga to physicalmovement and excludesthe other sevenlimbs. It is easy to think you are not “doing” yoga if you are not moving through physical postures. I find, in times of crisis and chaos, I need to make more space, more practice for the other seven limbs; especially pranayama and pratyahara. Over the past couple of weeks, I reconnected with Michael Stone’s book “The Inner Tradition of Yoga” and a particular passage in chaptertwo, Embracing Suffering, has stuck with me. Michael says, “If we are to grow, change, wake up, or heal in any way and to any degree, such transformation is only possible through embracing with awareness this very moment, even if it is a moment of discomfort, pain, or discontent.” I love this. Not because I think we all need to take on a self-improvement project.Truth be told, I don’t think the middle of a pandemic is the time for such projects. No, I love this because it is a reminder to acknowledge all of our feelings, across the whole spectrum, as they arise each moment. It also reminds me of a conversation with my grandmother when I described the struggle I was having balancing hope and fear while my husband was deployed. She immediately noted I was certainly carrying a lot of weight then looked me in the eye and said, “Darlin', you need to just give it God.”

I didn’t thinkI would be pulling together wisdom from my grandmother and Michael Stone when I started writing but alas, here we are. Michael says we should embrace and acknowledge all the feelingsand my grandmother says we should let them go. A beautiful balance of opposites – embracing and letting go.

One thing is certain, we will emerge from this crisis and it will change us. How we move through the days to come is up to us. Be kind to yourself. Hold hope. Hold fear. Hold all the feelings. Let them go. Find a new routine. Take each day as it comes and know you will be ok.


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