Yoga Wisdom for Summer Vacation: Balance and Breathe


“Identify your right arm from your left and don’t mix them up!” The instruction is clear. I’m relieved someone is telling me what to do, especially so early in the morning. “Swing your right arm underneath your left, cross at the wrists.” With varying degrees of effort and success, we do as she says.

It was the chaos of the beginning of the school year that motivated me to seek strength and mindfulness in the very hot yoga studio, where the only sounds are the instructor’s voice and my own breathing as I struggle to stand on one foot with the other wrapped around my calf and my arms twisted like ropes in front of my face. Somehow this is easier than figuring out afternoon carpool or getting my kids to school on time every morning. These things still need to happen, but once you’ve made even small progress in eagle pose, even the impossible seems possible!

A full school year later, I’m still here on my yoga mat, trying to balance and breathe and focus on nothing except those two things. If only for the duration of the class.

We move from eagle to standing bow. I try to stretch my leg above my head and lower my upper body toward the floor, at the same time. My breath comes in short gasps, and my heart races. The cardiovascular part of class they call this, like it’s a good thing. I feel that I need to lie down immediately. The posture is over before I know it, and I take a deep breath and listen for the next instruction.

“Be in it,” I hear the wise instructor say, above the deep inhales and exhales around me. “Really be in the posture when you’re in it. Don’t hang out, waiting for it to be over.” I think she’s talking directly to me.

Summer is here, and I think about the truths I’ve discovered while breathing and balancing in that hot room. Gentle prompts that remind me how to get the most out of every day, every experience, every moment. Small reminders perfect for a bunch of kids on summer vacation. What’s true in the yoga studio is usually true outside of it too.

“If you can, you must,” is my favorite yoga teacher’s mantra. If you are physically able to touch your forehead to your knees, do it! If your spine is able to bend backwards, bend! If there are new friends to make and new foods to try, go for it! Wonderful and exciting opportunities may present themselves to you this summer. If your body and heart are able, seize them. Your life will be fuller, richer, brighter. If you can, you must.

All yoga instructors teach: “Where your eyes go, your body will follow.” This is for you, my often cautious daughter, as you stand at the edge of the pool wondering if you’ll clear a good distance when you dive. It’s for you, my fearless son, as you descend the half pipe on your skateboard: don’t forget to look up! And it’s for you, my youngest and oldest, as you embark on new adventures – your first time at sleep away camp, your first time as a CIT (counselor in training): look ahead, look beyond, look for something new. Where your eyes go, your body will follow.

As we stand on our mats in the yoga studio we are always reminded to be considerate to our fellow yogis. To make sure the people behind us can see themselves in the mirror. To not enter or exit the class during a pose, as it is distracting. To take care of others. As we head into summer, look out for each other. Look out for your friends. Offer help, a hug or a high five! Share your food, your water, your bug spray and sunscreen. Share your love and yourself. Be kind. Take care.

The summer promises to be as busy as the school year. There will be fun adventures and new experiences for all of us. And I will continue to practice yoga. Because if I can balance and breathe inside the yoga studio, I can probably do the same outside of it too.


This piece originally appeared on J. The Jewish News of Northern California.

109 thoughts on “Yoga Wisdom for Summer Vacation: Balance and Breathe

  1. I am so happy that you are enjoying your yoga classes, so continue to breathe and “go for it”. At the moment, my Teacher is away for two weeks, so I am missing my yoga classes. Well written, as always Nicki. Lots of love, Namaste!

    Liked by 10 people

  2. Oh I wish I could do yoga having a teenage son and license this past winter and now summer HELP ! Only problem I have a bad hip a genie disorder so I don’t think I could bend like that. Looks so relaxing I envy you🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Hey nicki . Love thr fact that you are enjoying yoga. It’s rejuvenating and helps to calm your thoghts and thinking to take a moment and enjoy breathing and living.
    Also I’m new to wordpress please follow my blog Certianly doubtful and let me know your valubale views.
    Please do visit India sometime you would enjoy doing yoga on the ghats of Banaras.

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  4. Pingback: Yoga Wisdom for Summer Vacation: Balance and Breathe | Cleaning Service in the Stockholm

  5. This makes me want to get back into yoga again! I stopped mainly because of the limited amount of time I had while in dental school. But I’ve realized that yoga really centers me and keeps my head straight even with everything going on around me. I’ll probably be signing up again soon! Thanks for the good read!!

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  6. Pingback: Yoga Wisdom for Summer Vacation: Balance and Breathe — Red Boots – Sporting Jazz Music

      • It is so true that we push ourselves to achieve and possess more and more, but to what end? No one is going to make it out of this world alive, as we all return to dust. This is why we are given free will to choose the middle path, working hard when we must, then relaxing and enjoying life in due season.

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    • There are some older DVD’s by Rodney Yee that you can order on Amazon. Years ago I was a Rodney “groupie” I really enjoyed his style of teaching. Remember when you begin to just start where you are and use the exhalation of your breath to achieve muscle length and relaxation.

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      • Yes, yoga can help with back pain. It can help relax the muscles that tighten because of the pain. Gentle stretches and restorative poses are the best way to start. You can find my first book that can help with an overview on how to deal with pain. Passion Beyond Pain: A Mindful Approach to Living a Life of Balance. Available at Green Dragon Books. Com
        Dealing with certain types of pain is a life long process. Best wishes.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Glad to see your post. Yoga teaches you to live life with a discipline, which is so important nowadays. I’ve also started doing yoga after my child’s birth. Looking forward for more posts from you. 🙂

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  8. i read a lot of good content regarding Yoga/’s really healthy. The only problem is that you cannot dive straight into their mind set, is too irritating at first, even though i do martial arts – Karate, still there is a bit of struggle there!

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  9. Pingback: Yoga Wisdom for Summer Vacation: Balance and Breathe — Red Boots - ATAK SOCIAL COMMUNITY

      • Had a great experience yesterday. I have practiced yoga for twenty years. My son and his three buddies asked my to give them a yoga lesson. We went under the shade of a river birch in the back yard and spent thirty minutes going through various poses. We ended with final relaxation and everyone ended feeling great and relaxed. What a gift this was for me.

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  10. Pilates is my yoga – I love the way my body feels strong (usually) and that my mind is focused on movement, and nothing else. I hope you are finding the quiet moments during this busy summer, Nix!

    Liked by 2 people

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  12. Pingback: Yoga Wisdom for Summer Vacation: Balance and Breathe — Red Boots | Hart Residents Community Website

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