Letter from John: February 2012

Exactly 12 years ago, I took my first, my second, and my third yoga class - one right after the other.

The first two classes were disasters, which said as much about me as the instructors; I had spent too much of my life moving to be still, and not enough time understanding the relationship between my mind, body and spirit.

And then I found Kelly Trask, and a home for my practice. Kelly taught me to slow down, and to connect with aspects of my self that had become invisible in the rush of day-to-day.

For six years, I was a weekly participant in Kelly's trave ling yoga classes as they moved through studio spaces in the Fan, Oregon Hill, Downtown and Shockoe Bottom. My practice centered me through divorce and death.

A new marriage, a tough pregnancy, an active baby, and a new business all colluded to push yoga to the bottom of my priorities.

Last month, I returned to my practice. I sat cross-legged on a mat in a Shockoe Bottom studio with my eyes closed, my spine extended.

As Kelly instructed the class to focus on our breath, to gently disengage from the day, and to explore the natural tension between our breathing and our posture, I realized how much I had missed my practice - and how similar our work at Floricane is to the practice of yoga.

That was reflected back to me two days later during a strategic planning session. Our clients were growing uncomfortable with ambiguity; they were hungry for concrete, actionable results. They told us as much.

"Notice what your body is telling you," Kelly says. "Breathe into the tension."

We listened. And we let the tension remain in the room, even as we quietly redirected our approach for the afternoon.

"Respect your body," Kelly says. "Adjust your posture and your practice in response."

During a break, two participants took me aside. "We were just talking about how valuable this process has been for this group," they said. "Taking time to slow down and step out of the game, to reflect on the long-term, is so important for us to do."

"Lengthen your spine," Kelly says. "Deepen your breathing, and let your thoughts slow and focus on the here and now."

Helping organizations slow down and listen deeply is an important part of our work at Floricane. But it's not the only part.

Like good yoga practice, our best work helps organizations slow and center, strengthen and stretch - it takes them into surprising, sometimes challenging, postures. In doing so, it often reminds them that our organizations, like our bodies, need our constant attention.