Are you a leader or a follower? Often I’m a little of both but more often I want to lead, to take charge, to be curious and explore…without a map. This can be an awesome quality. It has inspired me to do all kinds of things and take many risks in my life.
Following is not quite as easy for me. I’m more comfortable leading. I feel in control. Enormous trust is required to follow. When I started yoga it took almost the entire first year to figure out where my arms and legs were supposed to be. Then there was the unfamiliar “yoga talk.” Often it felt like I was in a different land. Things felt foreign, a little scary, but nice enough to keep me interested.
After that first year, things felt more familiar. My body began to learn the poses and did not feel so convoluted. With each class savasana (the final pose at the end where you just rest) was delivering more sweetness. Then I got curious about the breath. Sure, the instructor had been gently reminding us to breath, but I was just trying to get the shapes right. One of my teachers said in class “the breath is your dance partner, and you are the follower.” Oh dear, I thought. Once again yoga had another lesson to teach me.
First I had to change my mindset of control. I had to lean in and be willing to surrender to the pace of my dance partner’s breath. I had to trust. At first I kept stepping all over his toes. “Ahhhemmm…” I could feel the breath saying,” I’m in the lead here.”
“Oh, sorry…but, I’m pre-programmed to lead, and I’m kinda bossy.”
“You can lead in other places, sweet one, but not here in this dance of yoga. Here, I, the breath, lead.”
He was so gentle, and sweet, I started to trust. I realized it was easier, and more natural. No pushing, no strain. Slowly it all began to make more sense. Certain movements support the inhale. Raising the arms up over head, lengthening the spine, lifting the heart into the sternum. The exhale movements are natural to ground into the earth with the souls of my feet, letting the shoulders melt down, drawing the belly in to squeeze out the lungs, softening and releasing into a twist.
When I was able to surrender, to abide in the breath, the dance of yoga, and life, slowly began to make sense and it all felt more connected. It felt so good.
This week see what it might be like to see your breath as the most beautiful force of life energy and the most amazing dance partner. Crawl onto the floor or onto your mat and just breath and let your body move to follow the breath. No set poses to do, just follow the breath. Lean into it with a full, completely surrendered trust. And be open to what might unfold.
What if life were just that? A beautiful dance with your breath. What if?