First, confessions of an English major: I was totally thrown off my zen today by my yoga instructor’s improper use of the word “invaluable.” I could not release the error to its own beautiful truth or whatever, and focus in the present moment.

That out of the way–best class ever today. We focused on twists. I’m sure there are fancy yogi terms for twist variations, but to me, all that was lost after invaluable. As far am I’m concerned, we just spent an hour twisting, and it was divine. I have tmj, so I carry tension in my shoulders, neck and jaw all. the. time. The easy fix is to pop a valium. The better way is yoga. And these stretches, specifically, work to literally unwind the tight and painful places. The result is not just relief, but a healing energy that takes on a life of its own.

While some degree of twisting happens in every class, today’s focus on this one type of movement let me see, in a whole new way, how much i am really holding onto at any given moment. An hour devoted to twisting was a discipline in letting go. It was not just about spinal strength, or toning up the core. Forgive me another English major moment, but this was daggone metaphorical. Each time I give my body permission to unwind, the rest of me learns to follow.

This is why i try to go to class at least once a week. The point of yoga ‘practice’ is that you learn these rhythms of movement and breath, becoming fully embodied over time. After awhile (supposedly) you don’t even have to remind yourself to inhale and exhale fully, to see the inner light of people, or to let go that which clutches at your insides.

But for us regular people, it still takes some intention, even on our best days. It occurs to me how much tension, hurt and anxiety we carry around–not just in our muscles, but in our very core.  And by ‘core,’ i don’t mean killer abs. It is a soul sickness, really, that causes our human bodies to move through the world with such calculated and often painful motions. And though it may be an illness of the soul, we feel it in our earthly bones.

It is such a great mystery to me, how we worry and hold on so, inflicting pain on ourselves and others, when we have such healing power at our disposal. So often, it only takes a breath to cure what ails us. And a posture of unwinding, and letting go.

What troubles us so? What is worth a lifetime of self-inflicted suffering? I don’t know… But i’m guessing that there’s an invaluable response, right in front of my newly-unfurled self.

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  • I’m so curious. How did she use invaluable?

    • she said, ‘maybe that practice is invaluable to you,’ meaning not valuable. stuck in my head like popcorn in teeth. took me 5 minutes to shake it off!