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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: January 2024

Reflections on a Palindrome Birthday

Christine Dauchez


  • A palindrome is a word, sentence, or number that reads the same backwards and forwards.
  • Looking back at life encourages reflection on the present and future.
  • The active meditation of Yoga sequences that unite breath with movement allows the release of tension and the ability to quiet the mind.
Reflections on a Palindrome Birthday
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My oldest turned 11 the year I turned 44, and we just celebrated our second palindrome birthdays this year (I will leave you to do the math). A palindrome (from the Greek roots palin “again, back” and dromos “running”) is a word, sentence, or number that reads the same backwards and forwards.

A first generation Asian American, I have spent most of my life in forward drive, focused on achievement – getting the best grades, going to the best schools, working at the best firms, getting the highest ratings. But as I contemplate my next palindrome birthday, I can’t help but look back and ask, how have I lived my life?

After my youngest was born (for those interested in doing the math, we are both Scorpio Monkeys), I started practicing yoga. It has now become one of my rituals for recharging and for staying grounded. I especially enjoy the signature We Flow Hard class at Y7, where we practice three sequences three times each, first breaking down the sequence for proper alignment, second moving more fluidly with one breath per movement, finally building up to the third Flow on Your Own, all in a dark, heated room to music.

I used to dread the Flow on Your Own. I felt paralyzed on my own without verbal cues and then frustrated when I couldn’t remember the exact sequence of poses. Now it’s my favorite part of class. I riff off of the original sequence, adding poses, taking poses out, moving to the beat of the music, getting out of my head and lost in the flow.

When I first started, I concentrated on getting the poses and sequences right and was constantly distracted by my nagging to-do lists. The more I practice, the more I’m discovering the meaning of yoga from the Sanskrit root Yuj, “to yoke.” How we transition from one pose to the next is in some ways more important than the poses themselves. Transitions require us to slow down and breathe and to shift our weight so we can land gently and start a new pose on stable footing.

Yoga sequences are designed to help us transition to the final, and arguably most difficult, pose Savasana (corpse pose). The active meditation of the sequences uniting breath with movement allows us to release tension and to quiet the mind so we can truly relax as we lie down to rest.

Both on and off my yoga mat, I am learning to embrace the present moment with more intention - no easy feat for a consummate planner and frenetic New Yorker. As I start this next 11-year cycle, I will continue joyfully going off script, writing my own story, revealing my inner truth until the blissful end.