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The Yogi: Yoga and the Great Hummingbird Migration

The Yogi: Yoga and the Great Hummingbird Migration

Imagine you are taking a trip this month. It will be a long trip. You’ll be heading south in September. Your likely destination is Florida, Mexico and, perhaps, Costa Rica. You might even make it all the way to Panama, or the West Indies. You’ll cross the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. You’ll see the beaches of Miami, the Mississippi Delta, the Panama Canal. You’ll see brilliant sunrises and fiery sunsets, cross mountains and rivers, and even battle a few ferocious thunderstorms. It will be amazing.

Now imagine you are a bird about the size of your thumb.

The ruby-throated hummingbird makes this trip twice a year (give or take a few stops, as each migration is a little different). This mighty creature heads north in the spring and south in the fall, and comes up to the Granite State to breed and enjoy the lush scenery. In New Hampshire, the early birds arrive in our neck of the woods during the first week of May, and leave the Granite State in September.

The hummingbirds at our house have started to depart. They are not much for goodbyes. One day they are buzzing with activity, scrapping and fighting like hummingbirds do, and the next they are gone. That little bird, the size of your thumb, doesn’t even pack up any belongings. It just hits the road on a 2,000-mile journey.

Perhaps the hummingbird has no choice. I imagine if she gave it too much thought, that female bird outside of my kitchen window this morning might never leave. It’s beautiful here in September. It’s not too cold at night – yet. There is still plenty of food. And yet, she may just up and go today. She’ll take action.

I won’t pretend to know what, or if, a hummingbird thinks, but I do know that my own thoughts can get so tangled up in my head that’s it’s easy to get stuck and do nothing. Sometimes, instead of just thinking, worrying or dreaming about something, we’ve got to do something. My wife is pretty good at keeping it real. A few weeks back, we had a leak in a heating coil at the yoga studio. I was at home when I got a call from one of our teachers. I was pacing around, complaining and creating catastrophe in my mind, and my wife said: “Stop whining and do something about it.” I didn’t know anything about heating coils before that day. I know how to fix a leak in one now. My wife, like the hummingbird, knows that when it’s time to act, it’s time to act.

I like to think the hummingbird keeps it simple: one day at a time, one flap of the wings at time, one breath at a time. In yoga class, I like to say: “One day at a time, one posture at a time, one breath at a time.” I meet a lot of folks who think about starting their own journey with yoga. Almost every one of them believes that yoga can improve his or her quality of life. Most of them also have a list of reasons why they can’t start. There isn’t enough time. They’re too old, too inflexible or don’t know where to start. There are past injuries, new injuries and the demands of work and family. We can all find reasons why we can’t. It’s true for a yoga practice. It’s true for any fitness plan. The time to start is now. We know that movement and exercise can improve our lives, and we all find reasons why we can’t do it today.

You are blessed with the most amazing supercomputer ever made: your human brain. It sits on top of the most amazing machine ever created: your human body. You may not be born to fly non-stop for 900 miles across the Gulf of Mexico. You may not spend the winter in Central America. You can, however, spend a few minutes on a yoga mat today. Take action. You are worth it.

As I finish this, that female ruby-throated hummingbird is back at the kitchen window. I guess I’d better say goodbye now. I’ve got a yoga class to get to.

(Mike Morris is the owner of Hot House NH Yoga Pilates.)