Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I always liked the idea of yoga, but it took me quite a long time to take action and find a class. Fear of the unknown maybe? Of looking inexperienced...a newbie in a group of experienced yogis? Of feeling ridiculous doing poses named after animals? Who knows, really but for me at least, it's always a little bit easier to conquer fear and try new things with a friend along for the ride. Mylissa and I signed up for a gym with the express intent of trying out yoga. Well, that and the spinning classes...Mylissa is my biking buddy.

The heat was spiked in the room. I hadn't realized that yoga was done in higher temps. And though it made sense, heat and I are not usually not friends so this worried me slightly. The class was full but the regulars cheerfully made room...sincerely happy to have us join their "practice." The instructor, a gal named Cassie, talked us through the hour's worth of poses. Some very doable, others more challenging but I was pleased to find that I was able to flow along with everyone else, Cassie suggesting different modifications for those who wanted more or needed less. Music played throughout the workout. And at the very end, Cassie had us lay in "Shavasana" or "corpse pose." Laying on the floor, breathing deeply with our eyes closed, Cassie read to us passages from a book. Honestly, I can't even remember what it was that she said...only that my first inclination was to laugh. Though I knew that yoga is multi-faceted, to me it was all about getting some good exercise. And I had achieved that. Any of this Sanskrit mumbo jumbo I had already pre-judged to be complete hooey. But I stopped myself. It was my first yoga class ever. Shouldn't I at least give all of it a honest and open-minded chance before I decided what I was going to take away as being of value?

So I did what Cassie asked of us. I let go of all my daily worries and put everything out of my head. I focused inward...on my breathing, on each individual part of my body. I took in the words Cassie was sharing...noticed it, reflected on it, and let it move on. I softened every part of my face and body...let go of any tension and completely relaxed. And felt really good. I went home that day feeling not only physically rejuvenated but unexpectedly mentally as well.

I have come to love yoga. I don't go to class anywhere near as often as I wish I could. But when I do, the effects last all day. It is a hard workout. I am stretched and pulled and worked in all sorts of ways that I didn't expect in the beginning. It is very good exercise. But just as much, I love how meditative it can be. The whole practice is all about focusing inward, mentally as well as physically. I love having that time to clear my mind completely and really think about every little part and parcel of my body... what it is doing, how it feels, what for and why. Balance and flexibility and endurance and breath....despite likening myself to a cat or cow or cobra. Calm and centered and focused and meditative....despite the fact that I'm pushing my body to do hard things physically.

At the end of each class, we put our hands to "heart center" and wish each other Namaste.
I honor that place in you where the universe resides, and when I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you, we are one.

Or, a more casual way of defining it would maybe go something like this....hey, we've just done this great thing together and are feeling really good about life. This light and goodness in me right now recognizes that same thing in you and thinks you are awesome. See you next time!

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