Pool Full of Doubt?

OK, maybe not an entire POOL full, but at least a hot tub or a bathtub, but neither of those seem quite as scary because, hi, you can’t actually swim in them.

What the what am I talking about?

Anxiety. Breath. Swimming. Avoiding. All the things, really.

This morning, after two weeks off (one for laziness and – truth – late night Gilmore Girls watching, and one for the mysterious cough that was only a cough), I got back to the pool for the stream line class. This was after having a wildly successful second go at it the week directly after the first rather disastrous week. With me so far? Cool.

So, last night. I’m getting the kids’ clothes all laid out like I do every night, and gathering up my swim stuff, and my poor husband – he had to listen to me wish-wash on whether I was even going to swim this morning at least 10 times. Each way.

WHY?! Why is this so hard?!

And actually, when we said “goodnight,” he thought the final call was NO, because it was. But then I happened to wake up this morning and look at my phone at the exact right minute (5:12 a.m.) to still make it almost on time for the 5:30 start of class, so I rolled out of bed, grabbed all my gear and layers, and headed out into the Arctic chill to get there, nerves and all.

At least this time I had finally remembered to place my order on Swim Outlet to get my own goggles and swim cap (no, really – I spent a week waiting for a package that I didn’t actually order the first time I tried), so if nothing else, I looked more official.

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Thankfully the first class back wasn’t as rough as the actual first class, but it certainly wasn’t as smooth as the second, either. I guess part of that could still be the recovering lungs. And another part could be that this is still only my third time in the pool in years and years, so you know – baby strokes.

The fascinating and ironic bits for me are how badly my breath continues to freak out when I am trying to swim. I am doing loads better putting my face in the water in the deep end without having anxiety (thank goodness) but why in the why is so hard for me to exhale while putting my face in the water?!

My dear friend and swim teacher told me this morning to try holding my breath a bit and then letting all of the bubbles go while my face was down, and while I totally heard her and understood her, I couldn’t seem to get my body to actually do that very well.

Of course, all that time in the pool, slowly swimming laps and trying to breathe without freaking the eff out, gives a person some time to ponder, too. And as a yoga teacher, I obviously know and think about the breath quite a bit, so today my (brain) wheels were really spinning as I kept coming up sputtering for air.

This summer, at a meditation workshop, I learned about how the inhale and exhale are connected to the future and the past, respectively. I also learned that most of us have a preference for which part of the breath we prefer/find easier. For me it is the inhale. I can suck air in for days! Maybe this is part of my former life as a runner? Trumpet player? I don’t know. But it explains a lot, because I also know that when you take in more air that you let out, you tend to work yourself up (and hello, Type A and all that), so no wonder I get myself going sometimes.

The exhale, however, is where relaxation and release comes. Again – knowing this has explained a lot about my personal tendencies and my yoga practice and many things this year, and I’ve been working on it. Been making progress, too. But you throw me in the pool (jokes-  they do not throw you in the pool), and I go right back to bringing in all kinds of air and then super struggling to let it the flip out.

So, I guess the point of all this is to say, patience and practice remain key. I have to channel my inner Dory and yogi, and I simply must just keep swimming AND just keep breathing. I mean, what other way is there?!

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