Today was the first official day of my summer sabbatical. My goals for this time period are legion and include many plans for writing, reading, relaxing, reconnecting, and letting some of the stresses of this past year roll off of my shoulders.
But my largest goal is to stretch, everyday.
My shoulders and hips and legs are so tight that I’ve been in nearly-constant pain for the past 4 months. I’ve had too many hours at my desk, too many hours commuting by car. And when I have been exercising, it’s generally been a power activity like canoeing or rock climbing, and not an activity that increases my limberness.
So today: yoga.
Gentle restorative stretches to ease the tightness in my lower back. It’s humbling to realize how far I’ve drifted from my previous, flexible self. And things weren’t going so well with the yoga stretching (ouch) until I realized that I’d forgotten to breathe. My jaw was still clenched tight, my mind remained focused on some stressors that I can’t control. My hands were tight fists.
So I stoked the coals in my belly and started to send the heat out to my aching muscles.
Inhaling and exhaling from deep inside.
And it worked. I got looser (a bit). I stretched for an hour and then I spent my 10 minutes of shavasana focusing solely on breathing. When I sat up afterwards, the pain was definitely decreased, and I felt more alert, more hopeful, and more ready for what lies ahead.