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Yoga Amidst Stress and Chaos – A Dispath from O’Hare Airport

February 24, 2014

By Rabbi Chava Bahle

Like some other major travel hubs, O’Hare Airport in Chicago now has a yoga room. Located in a rotunda a floor above the movement between Unknown terminals, and next to the indoor garden, the little room is an amazing oasis amidst the stress of the airport.
I had been stuck at O’Hare for almost 36 hours when I finally decided to visit the yoga room.  It is small but quiet and observes yoga space etiquette like removal of shoes, silencing electronica and wiping down the mats that are available for use.
I was skeptical, ‘though it must be said that after being trapped for that long in my least favorite environment – a large, loud space filled with a great many angry, sad, frustrated people – I was feeling skeptical about a great deal more than the yoga room at that point.
In any event, meditative music was playing from a screen with soothing images, and there was a large mirror on one side of the room, along with a basket of mats to use.
I decided to “vinyasa-fy” the hot yoga sequence and just flow through what I normally do in class.  My skepticism quickly faded.
The power of yoga, with intention and breath, is truly transformative.
For a few moments I wasn’t stuck at O’Hare. I wasn’t getting ripped off from the day I had planned with my sweetie. I wasn’t homesick – okay, that’s a lie, I was still homesick, but for a few moments, I was my yoga self, not the aggravated, sleep starved, ill-fed lunatic who has been stuck at O’Hare.
I focused a lot on postures that open the heart, especially back bends and breathing, and on just enjoying doing one of my favorite things: prayer through movement, breathing, being present.Unknown-1
I gave myself permission to just do yoga for a half hour or so, and it completely shifted how I felt, and how I now feel about the remaining several hour wait until I get to try again to get home.
Earlier in the day I had one of those nice confluences of sacred reading: reading totally unrelated texts from different traditions which ended up making the same point.  The confluence was around the concept of expanding the mind and perspective to allow for the fact that our small perception of things is not the whole story, the big picture, or the ultimate reality of a situation.
My time on the mat at O’Hare brought me to the very same place: yes this is inconvenient, yes, I am sad to once again lose a day with my honey, yes I am home sick, but it is possible to relax the grip on all that a little and realize, sitting here in front of some sprouting cilantro, that life does indeed go on.
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