I always wanted to try yoga but I wasn’t sure it was for me. I liked the feeling I got from going to the gym, working out on the weight machines or just running on the treadmill. It felt good to expend all that energy.
I didn’t know anything about yoga but to me it looked too gentle, just a lot of stretching, standing, and sitting. I wanted to strengthen my muscles, build my stamina. Yoga seemed like an excuse not to exercise. I can hear the yogis laughing right now.
Let’s just say that yoga was not at all what I thought it would be. Although I intended to try a new "exercise" program, yoga is so much more than that.
We gather in a linoleum tiled multi-purpose room two floors beneath my office. It’s unbelievable to me how that space turns into a peaceful yoga studio with just the presence of my fellow yogis and yoginis.
There are so many things I love about yoga.
Our instructor, Kate, reminds us to stay on our own mat. There’s no competition in yoga. Your awareness is on your own body, you find your own strength, awe at how your body can accommodate your intentions.
For an hour, life stops. I never pay attention to my breath outside of my practice. But in yoga class you are aware - aware of your body’s intake of breath, of the way your muscles and bones work together to move in space. For an hour I let the rest go.
We are reminded to respect our bodies and their unique abilities. One day I can hold a balancing pose and one day I struggle. Kate will offer more challenging asanas, always respectfully beginning with "if it's available to you..." To be honest, most of the time it's not available to me, but the offer is always there. An affirmation that even if I'm not there yet, one day I may be.
What would it mean if I brought that same amount of respect and attention to the rest of my life - say to my writing? What if I didn’t compare myself to others, and just respected my own journey? What if I allowed myself the time to practice, knowing that one day, something that had been too challenging for me before, was suddenly available?
To all you current and future yogis and yoginis, and to my fellow writers - Namaste