December 29, 2020

For many years I was a runner. I was in exceptional shape. But I wasn’t healthy. There is a fine line between consistency and obsession, and I crossed it. Six weeks into my third pregnancy, I came home from an evening run and disintegrated into the floor. That was it. A few weeks later, I was in my local swimming pool with a bright yellow noodle between my legs. Aqua-fit is the antithesis of running and the respite I needed after years of running my body into the pavement. After Luma was born, I traded classes for laps. I loved being in the water. And after so many years of running solo, I loved how swimming felt both solitary and communal. For five years, I swam two to three times a week. And then towards the end of last year, I found myself floating more than swimming. I’d often lay on my back in the deep end and just stare up at the ceiling. I’d move up and down the slow lane on my flutter board, careful not to collide with an octogenarian. By January, I’d stopped swimming all together. I was craving something different. That’s when I turned to yoga. I began with a few classes at my local community centre, and then when Covid settled in, one of my dearest friends in England organized for us to meet weekly on zoom with her yoga teacher, Ellie. We’ve gathered every week since April and over nine months, cultivated a beautiful archive of classes to draw on whenever we feel the urge. it’s been a gift to ourselves, and to each other. Most of the classes are yin –– slow, gentle and meditative –– and Ellie is often reminding us of the profound effect that slow, deliberate and gentle movement can have on the body. For someone who has lived her life filling each minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run this is new terrain. Sometimes, we’ll be in a forward bend for ten minutes or more. “Keep your resolve strong and your attitude gentle,” says Ellie. Back in the spring, I’d very often rest in child’s pose for the first half of the class. Olivia whistles as she exhales which makes me giggle. And her hair always ends up in a huge bouffant. There is a comfort and warmth and intimacy that I never imagined finding on zoom. Ellie brings such deep wisdom, intuition and compassion to the space. I have learned so much from her. My children walk in and out all the time, and in late July, our classes collided with the constant banging and drilling of builders. Ellie’s puppy, Benny yaps away in her Brixton flat and I can sometimes hear the sirens and airplanes over London. “What is it to meditate on a mountain if you cannot meditate in the market?” I don’t tune out the din, I am learning to be with it. I have no aspirations of a perfect pigeon or plow, and I couldn’t care less how far I fold into a forward bend. “We have nowhere to get to,” Ellie says. Olivia sent me a blanket and blocks and other props last month and what a difference all that makes. Surrendering, knowing when we need support, breathing, smiling through the discomfort, recognizing and honouring our limits, these are all lessons I am learning through our practice. It isn’t running. It isn’t swimming. It’s something new.


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