Back in 5th grade, we learned about the major organs of the human body. It was a rudimentary introduction, to be sure, but I was surprised to see pictures of the insides of the lungs, how intricate and developed they were. The trachea, the branching off into the bronchi, one of which feeds into each lung, and so on, until my teacher explained to us how the magic of converting oxygen to carbon dioxide rested on tiny budlike structures buried deep in the recesses of my healthy, smooth pink lungs. Who knew what wonders existed beneath my skin, beneath my bones?

I’m in yoga teacher training now, and as I’ve sat through classes on anatomy and respiration and breath, I’ve been reminded of those bud like structures, officially called the alveoli, pictured below.

Even though it’s been a l o n g winter and a late spring, I can’t help but be reminded of the budding trees that steadfastly maintained their growth even as our Michigan spring limped along. The alveoli buried deep inside our lungs that convert our respiration from oxygen to carbon dioxide provide us with life. A person’s life, as B.K.S. Iyengar noted, “is not measured by the number of his days but by the number of breaths.” The buds on the trees perform a similar function: they store the energy for the trees and break open when the timing in right; once they do, most of those buds produce leaves – leaves that engage in photosynthesis once they unfurl, converting our carbon dioxide into oxygen and providing us with the air we need to breathe.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the Instagram yogis and their “perfect” asana poses that we forget the foundation of this practice is to BREATHE. Most of the time, we practice in studios or at home, hemmed in by walls. Beth’s vision in taking BAREFOOT AND FREE outdoors to connect in nature provides us with a rare opportunity to breathe in harmony with Mother Earth, with the trees and plants that provide us with rich oxygen to nourish our blood, and to give back by breathing OUT to provide nature with the carbon dioxide it needs to thrive. Do not forget, you are a part of nature, too. Here is your chance to contribute to nature’s grand and marvelous design of give and take.

In July of 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson marveled at the beauty of the summer in Massachusetts that year: “It has been a luxury to draw the breath of life. The grass grows, the buds burst, the meadow is spotted with fire and gold in the tint of flowers.”

Won’t you come out and join us at BAREFOOT AND FREE? Come and draw “the breath of life…”