Holding On To The Air

four feathers with reflections

Years ago, I read the autobiography of ballerina Suzanne Farrell called, “Holding On To The Air.” Never mind the story, I was captivated by the title—envisioning that split-second when a willowy, prima ballerina arches flawlessly into suspended animation. The audience holds its collective breath in wonder, completely absorbed in the moment.

Last week, I reached a study goal that drove home the ancient wisdom of “being present” in the moment. I completed 200 hours of yoga teacher training. Don’t worry–I’m not quitting my day job. Interestingly, the curriculum covered far more than how to teach various postures. The most important learning for me was about time management—but NOT the kind we entrepreneurs and corporate types usually think of.

In this type of daily time management practice—a.k.a. stress management—I focus on the breath that sustains me and train my mind to be still. This is not as easy as it sounds, because my monkey mind just wants to fast forward to the what-if’s or playback the sucky thing that happened yesterday. It’s amazing how much relief I can find nestled in the present.Anyone can do it–and you don’t need 200 hours of training. In fact, you don’t even need a yoga mat.

Try these three steps for starters:

Breathe. Without realizing it, many of us resort to shallow breathing without knowing. It’s been said we tend to use only 33% of our lung capacity. This can send a distress signal to the body, preparing us for fight-or-flight and wreaking all kinds of damage. There are lots of studies to back this up. When we set an intention to slow down and practice deep  breathing, we slow our mind and restore clarity and calm, easily gaining back the time invested. And it doesn’t cost a penny.


Re-direct the monkey mind. Sometimes also called the mosquito mind, it’s a combination of unproductive thoughts and sometimes downright negative self-talk that brings us down and siphons away precious energy. It’s like dealing with an unruly child. Rather than get emotionally involved, you can choose to detach from the thought, show it the door, and refuse to entertain it another moment. Then carry on with a quest to find the wonder of this moment in time.


Change the picture. Find a picture or a verse that inspires you. The next time you feel stress rising from a negative thought or worry, follow steps 1 & 2. Then call to mind that calming picture. Repeat until you’re holding on to the air.




  1. Great article! Thanks for sharing. Great reminder in just three easy steps, we can really alleviate stressors in our lives.

    1. Natalie says:

      Thanks Jocelyn. You’re right – it IS easy – but it takes intention and practice!

  2. Trish Angeli-Lamb says:

    Congrats Natalie on completion of yoga teacher training! Yoga keeps me “grounded”. It’s SO true when you say “it takes intention and practice”! Your 3 steps calms both the mind and body and refocus you! Good teaching!

    1. Natalie says:

      Thanks Trish, Hope you can enjoy the quiet snow day today!

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