How best-selling historical fiction novelist Cathy Marie Buchanan found connection through yoga in quarantine.
Most days, about four o’clock, I say to Jack, “Close your eyes. Breathe in. Feel your rib cage lift. Breathe out.”
Jack is my 26-year-old son, and the pair of us are kneeling with our foreheads resting on the floor. It’s about as unlikely a scenario as I could have dreamt up, even just a few months back: my son—who does chin-ups every morning, who can’t quite touch his toes—in child’s pose on a yoga mat. But then, so much is unexpected just now—neighbors banging pots and pans on their verandas; hands held up to windows, seeking the warmth of the senior parent or friend on the other side. “Bring your focus inward,” I tell Jack. “Listen to your breath.”
I write historical fiction for a living, and yoga—I practice daily and teach once a week—provides the perfect antidote to the long, solitary hours hunched over a computer keyboard. For me, yoga is a builder of both outer and inner strength, a path to a fuller, healthier life. Imagine, then, my pleasure when Jack, freshly punted from his final term of law school into lockdown with his mom, found himself with time on his hands and casually asked if I would give him a class.
Yesterday, he held side plank for ten breaths. Today he was steady as he lifted from a high lunge to warrior three. Tomorrow he’ll manage an arm balance. I hear his breath, surer now, more even.
Afterward he says, “My body feels so good, so relaxed,” and I think how during a pandemic he’s discovering the power of mindful breath and coordinated movement to bring peace, how it’s something he’ll always know to call on to lift his spirit, to steady his mind.
For years, each fall, when my sons left home to return to their studies, my heart was heavy. Somehow, the busyness of life had yet again intruded, and we’d let slip another summer of opportunities to more deeply connect with each other. Time, it seems, is the silver lining of the pandemic: time with Jack—time to talk and laugh and eat and lament, time to share with him a practice that will help both of us prevail in uncertain times.