Five Breaths

Gail Boenning
100 Naked Words
Published in
1 min readFeb 7, 2020
Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

Fingertips clawing the floor, shoulders rooted into their sockets, hips raised and heels descending, I took in a long deep breath and then, let it go like honey pouring from a jar, slow and sweet.

The Sunday morning, semi-self led practice opened with ten sun salutations. At the end of each salute, we paused for five breaths. Why five? I don’t know. If our instructor Sarah ever told me, I’ve forgotten.

I break the five breath rule every time.

Do I have abnormally large lungs? Am I a laggard?
Again…I don’t know.
And it doesn’t matter.

I break the rule because if I were to take five breaths, everyone else would be standing around waiting for me to finish saluting the sun. Instead, I take three deep, rich breaths — my compromise to serve myself and others.

There was a time when I would have rushed five breaths to follow the rules — to be equal.

If that’s equality, I’ve decided I don’t want it.

My perception of equality has nothing to do with numbers, or things.

Equality according to Gail is the opportunity to know my puzzle piece.
To observe the systems I am part of.
To contribute accordingly.
To find balance between freedom from and freedom to.