March 27th, 2020

Finding Focus in the Unexpected

Julia Kaback

When I was a kid, I grew to dislike Monday evenings because I detested going to Hebrew School. Hebrew School was an afterschool activity on both Mondays and Wednesdays in which I studied the Hebrew language, Jewish culture, and the history of Judaism. I spent over seven years at Hebrew School to prepare for my Bat Mitzvah, which is the religious ceremony that marked my religious transition from childhood to young adulthood. In recent years, I’ve started to understand that my reasons for disliking Hebrew School were simple: I had trouble focusing for a long period of time. I found it difficult to learn a new language. And I lacked the social skills needed to form meaningful, long-lasting friendships. 

After graduating from Connecticut College in 2018 and then completing a six-week fellowship in Poland, I decided to get serious about my exercise routine. Despite the hot summer months in New York City, I began running in Central Park at least three times a week. But I also needed a way to relax in a much cooler environment. I turned to something I had done during school holidays: yoga. I signed up to take a flow yoga class on a Monday evening — and it soon changed my dislike for that day of the week. 

Since signing up for that first yoga class over two years ago, my instructor Claudia and I have worked together to help me learn about self-control and how to focus for long periods. I’ve learned that a person’s individual practice is all about his or her own control through movement, breath, dedication, and flow. As we move through poses with ease, I feel like I’m in the pilot’s seat (or more accurately the Chair pose) of my own life. In yoga, everyone has his or her own way of sitting in this unique pose. Like life, we all do it differently. 

Practicing yoga has taught me a valuable lesson: the ability to check in with myself and find the patience to make commitments to others, such as sticking to scheduled plans. And most importantly, I’m learning to make commitments to myself and overall well-being. Having spent much of my life fighting the stigmas associated with learning disabilities, I want to put an end to the myth that people with ADHD cannot have meaningful relationships and commitments. My yoga practice defies my own expectations of what I need to grow and thrive. I found that my favorite poses are breath-heavy poses such as Warrior poses, a split Downward Dog, and a meditative corpse pose called Shavasana. These poses require heavy focus and the right balance of breath and alignment. In this time of transition in my life as I start a new job and maintain responsibility outside the office, yoga has come through as a constant form of physical exercise and balance in my life.

As a member of NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council, I see that we all have our own ways of successfully coping with our learning disabilities (or learning differences). All ways being valid, mine requires patience. Redefining Monday is part of my journey to self-acceptance and finding balance both on and off the mat. If only I can get my left leg to support a standing-split pose. 


Below are some pictures of my favorite poses with some help from my yoga instructor, Claudia

This blog was written by Julia Kaback, a member of NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council.

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