Saying thank you for spontaneous applause


Many a workout lends itself to a personal round of applause. Maybe it went especially well. Maybe it didn’t, but it’s over and done. Maybe you saw the first slash of lightning the moment you walked in the door after finishing, or you went a mile you hadn’t planned to go, or you went a mile less and realized the world will still go on.

Today, Memorial Day, my run wasn’t what generated applause. Touching each flag I could lent itself more to an uttered whisper of “thank you” rather than a clapping of hands

Instead, it was my yoga class. Every class is good, despite or because (as Jill, my instructor and pal always says) our bodies are different every day. An easy airplane pose one day may elicit a “You’re kidding, right?” from it another. Some classes, though, just stand out.

That was the case today. There were probably 20 of us crowded into that beloved space. As she took us through the poses, Jill talked a lot about freedom — of our country, of our bodies, of our minds. When we lay down for shavasana(hhhhh) — that resting pose I’ve come to appreciate more and more — she read this quote from Nelson Mandela:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

She thanked us for helping her have the courage to open her studio, and reminded us that we’re free to be there, to practice yoga, to do just about whatever we want, because of the countless men and women who have fought so we can do just that.

She ended the practice, as always, by saying “Namaste.” Those of us who had our eyes closed opened them, and everyone — without one second of hesitation, without glancing to see what the person on an adjacent mat might do — spontaneously applauded.

For that…for a feeling of belonging…for freedom…for oh so much more, The Grateful Runner (and swimmer and yogi) says thank you.