"Breathe in, breathe out"

by Adrianna Jaworska (Spain)

I didn't expect to find Spain


I hardly know any words in Spanish and I don’t even like yoga. I am already convinced that this was a really bad idea. There are plenty of things to do in Barcelona on a Sunday morning and most of them do not include sweating on the beach in the early, but already unforgiving, Catalan sun. The adventurous side of me spontaneously signed up for this Facebook event looking for some activities for my very first week in Spain. The romantic in me imagined my breathing and body movement perfectly synchronized with the sound of waves crushing gently into the shore. The down-to-earth, 8am version of me is highly doubtful. I am already sweating from the walk I had to make from the train station to a small chiringuito (a beach bar) where the yoga class is taking place and I am suddenly very self-conscious about the fact that I don't speak Spanish. As I approach a small group setting up yoga mats on the stretch of sand behind the beach bar, a tall man with hard-rimmed glasses comes toward me with a welcoming smile. “Eres Adriana, no?” “Si,” I reply and wait for him to tell me what to do. He gestures me to take a place among other yogis, in a circle around an unassuming woman in a black tank top and shorts. She must be the yoga teacher. She is short and of a very light frame, but when she stretches out her arms during the Sun Salutation sequence, she seems tall enough to embrace all of us, the chiringuito, the beach, even the sky and the ocean. With a ballerina's grace, she guides us through various yoga poses, repeating one word over and over again. Respira. Breathe. As I bend my back forward, changing the position to Downward-facing Dog my feet wobble on the unstable ground and my ponytail sweeps the sand. It isn't the romantic ocean yoga flow I envisioned, but I am starting to feel relaxed. I don't understand most of what the yoga teacher is saying, but her voice is soothing, as is the sound of the waves. In the Forward Fold position I embrace my elbows with the palms of my hands and let the weight of my head pull me closer to the sand. I close my eyes, breathe in and breathe out. “Saber escucharse, saber liberarse,” the yoga teacher’s voice breaks the silence. I have never heard these Spanish words before, but somehow at this very moment my knowledge of French kicks in and I manage to decode their meaning. Saber. Escucharse. Saber. Liberarse. To know…listen to yourself…to know…liberate yourself. To listen to yourself is to liberate yourself. My arms and head sink deeper into the laws of gravity and my breathing takes over. I listen carefully. Inhale - exhale. Breathe in - breathe out. Take in - release. My breath is finally at sync with the waves and my body is no longer struggling with the posture. I am not struggling with anything, because I finally let go. Before ending up on this Catalan beach on a Sunday morning, I have checked off various countries on my bucket list and welcomed many passport stamps in the pursuit of freedom. And yet, I have never felt as light and free as in this moment. Could it really be as easy as the two Spanish verbs? Escucharse. Liberarse. Listen. Set yourself free.