Friday, 18 January 2013

Breathe, Body and Mind

She pressed one finger on the buzzer affixed to the wall. The room filled with an expectant pause as we waited for the muffled clang of the entrance door closing behind someone entering.

My mind reverts to San Francisco and to the door buzzers of our older Victorian apartments. The buzzer was never located in eyesight of the entrance and on the ‘morning after’s, no one wanted to vacate the couch. It became a listening chore; roomies closest to the front windows, hollered, “he’s or she’s in!” Faulty buzzers or slow visitors were our biggest enemies warranting numerous unwanted trips from the couch to the hallway.

On this night I was on South William Street in Dublin attending my first pilates class and impatiently awaiting the buzz of one latecomer after another.

Over the last four years I have become crusty, grouchy and dissatisfied. I know breathing is the key to any tenuous and stressful situation. Deep breaths. Now I’m in the City five days a week and there is a plethora of activities to breathe in. My choice had to be physical. As a returning member of Weight Watchers, I am a true resolution cliché. Literally, I chose to be physical and breathe and that led me to pilates.

Unfortunately my grouchiness didn’t evaporate at sign up. The first class was due to start at 6:15, yet we didn’t begin instruction till after 6:30.

To my dismay, the instructor was over accommodating to late comers—there were many—in an almost dismissive manner to those of us who arrived on time and sat waiting.

The gal to my right was a back injury who couldn’t move without medical intervention and the full attention of our instructor.

Needless to say, my inner grouch was in full crustiness. It only served me and no one else. Ill-served, I might add. I wanted to learn and do, yet too many interruptions held my attention hostage. The instructor would say “Inhale…” She’d go on to help someone and I was stuck inhaling, unsure what to do next. Do I hold? Do I exhale? It was frustrating.

I let it get the best and worst of me, and it quickly became a bad memory of 6th grade calisthenics.

“Inhale…raise the knee… flex the foot…lower the knee… point the foot…” Meanwhile I’m still inhaling???

“Oh, you should exhale,” she chuckles.

The whole process was timing. Was I to hold my breath between movements? If not, how do I know when to release my breath? It was torment. I stopped, and like the pained gal on my right with her limited mobility, I seized the instructor’s attention with my questions. The instructor concurred that it was confusing and after a few classes my mind and body would be in sync.

Meanwhile, my body is making much better progress with an already 4.5lb loss on Weight Watchers. I know I’m grouchy and judgemental. I spend the rest of the evening role playing in my head for a healthy distraction.

What if I was running late and needed forgiveness for interrupting class?

What if I had a bad back but was determined to do an exercise class?

How well would I serve as the pilates instructor juggling the mixed needs and levels of nine students and one annoying grouch?