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“Adversity introduces a man to himself” -Albert Einstein
Saturday morning beach yoga is one of my most favorite classes. Generally speaking, the sky is beautiful blue, the dolphins are playing in clear view and the morning sun provides just the right amount of warmth without the heat of mid-day. Needless to say, when the conditions are this desirable, we have a great turn-out of ambitious yogi’s ready to share their practice. One recent Saturday, however, this was not the case.
The forecast predicted a cold front coming through. I have come to learn this sometimes means a swing of approximately 6 degrees. Not a true “cold front” by this former Midwesterner’s standards. I remember days in Iowa where the temp dropped 40 degrees in a day. We went from AC to furnace in a matter of hours. Snow and wind ripped at the tulips that dared to bloom in April. My down parka was not safe to store until June.
But on this particular Saturday, here in our tropical paradise, the predicted cold front, did indeed, arrive. The weather was not so much cold as it was, in my opinion, angry. The clouds were blue-gray and rolled across every opening the sun attempted to penetrate. The wind blew with authority, stirring the surf into white crested waves that crushed the shore noisily. And on this early Saturday morning in January, even the hearty northerners were a no-show on the beach. Optimistically I set up for beach practice anyway, hopeful that the sky would clear and between the sun and our yoga, we would find warmth. Unfortunately, for the 5 brave yogis who joined me that morning, Mother Nature had other plans.
Wind and clouds sent occasional sprays of cold raindrops, causing us to pull on sweatshirts and zip up jackets. We turned our yoga mats into the wind and kept going as the spit of raindrops turned into horizontal rain. And still, three of our five brave warriors carried on. We finished our yoga practice just a few minutes early, deciding that finding stillness in our final resting pose was beyond the scope of reason. Yet those individuals who persevered to the end, did so with smiles on their faces, and senses of humor intact.
We really have no way of knowing what’s in store for us. Meteorologists can predict the weather but there are no scientific formulas or radar beacons to gather the signals of adversity in our lives. The choices we make to live a healthy lifestyle certainly help, but adversity exists, stuff happens, and in the blink of an eye we are faced with life-changing decisions, unexpected beginnings and tragic endings.
One of my most favorite yoga quotes came from an instructor of mine. He referred to pranayama, or breath, and the power it provides. He said, “The inhale opens the gate. The exhale takes us down the path that is now open.” Yoga is the union of body and mind through breath. Yoga is a lifestyle that prepares us for the adversities we encounter in our everyday lives. Yoga teaches us to live in the here and the now without attachment to what preceded this moment or what might follow.
We all experience varying levels of adversity every day of our lives. It’s how we approach these experiences that matters. And we don’t necessarily know the character of who we truly are until we are faced with the fist of adversity square between the eyes. Wind and rain from an angry sky are gentle barriers that cross the path of life. They are easily maneuvered and short-lived. Yet they stand as a reminder that how we manipulate our way through the small stuff might be good practice for squaring off with Adversity’s more powerful Big Brother. When the gate that stands before us is not a picket fence made of pine with well-oiled hinges, but instead a steep stone wall, anchored in the earth, and reaching the sky. When this happens we will be introduced to ourselves, in the words of Albert Einstein. We will know the “stuff” we are made of.
As we come face to face with life’s biggest challenges, we will be thankful that we practiced our yoga in the rain.
Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.