April 16, 2013

Occupying the Center (Boston Marathon) in Chaos.

Yesterday, Deb Tupper rounded the corner of Boylston and Hereford, coming into visual range of the Boston Marathon finish line.

She was feeling awesome—in her seventh year of yoga practice, Deb was reaping the rewards of a huge breakthrough. Guiding this extremely fit runner, I have been coaxing, pleading, (at times) berating her to elongate her ujaya breath. Despite her obvious physical gifts, she has breathed in remarkably shallow rhythms—I call it hummingbird breath.

Finally, I yielded to the reality that Deb would breathe however worked. This year she surrendered. Not to me, of course, or to the practice—she surrendered to something inside herself.

The proof showed up in a dramatic shift into long fluid cycles of breathing especially during savasana (relaxation pose) and training for the Boston Marathon.

As one who has run Boston many times, Deb was thrilled with how easily she holding the clip of eight-minute miles. A third of the way into the race, Deb experienced doubt. Could she maintain this torrid pace? She felt like she was flying over the pavement. Words coaching her to breathe through the center came into her consciousness. And she just kept flying along at her record clip.

In fact, Deb was running so effortlessly she called her daughter on her cell to arrange meeting at the finish line.

So when she rounded the corner onto Boylston, Deb was kicking hard to get her metal and meet her family. Her initial response to the first explosion was fireworks. Then, she realized the bedlam happening around her. And she got angry.

Who could ruin such a perfect day? Where was her daughter? And her sister?

The authorities quickly took down all of the cellphone networks as a precaution to prevent other devices from being detonated, so Deb was frantic to locate her family. What had been her perfect day became an instant nightmare. Even after expending so much energy into the race, she was running around in a frenzy to make sure her family was safe.

Almost an hour later, she got a call from her daughter’s best friend. They were okay. Her sister was on the grandstand where the third device was disarmed—a closer call than anyone wanted to think about.

This morning, Deb showed up for class later than normal—her husband had kicked her out the door. From these seven years, he knew what she needed.

True to form, Deb was a beast on her yoga mat. As her yoga teacher, I am so proud of her.

Not  for running a record time in the marathon.

I am proud of Deb for the commitment she shows to improve herself day after day on her yoga mat. Many times this morning, I fought back tears (it’s sort of embarrassing to openly sob while teaching) as I spoke about the nuances of how to occupy the center in the midst of chaos.

I kept looking over at Deb and thinking, ‘Wow, she is one flippin’ Warrior with Soul. And I feel so honored to be her yoga teacher.”

Thank you, Deb, for showing up on your yoga mat!


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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