Thursday, January 10, 2013

Something Old, Something New; Something Awkward Just For You

I have loved yoga for about 14 years. I started attending classes when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter.

As I got bigger and bigger, I got more and more limber. 3 days before I delivered, I could bend forward and place both of my palms on the floor in front of my feet - with my legs straight. I felt strong and physically competent. And for the first time in my life, I loved my own body- both in pregnancy and in yoga.

I stuck with it over the years, at a small studio near our old house. The style there was unique: very focused on posture and alignment and breath, always breath. I do not have a body like Twiggy (or Gumby, dammit) yet I felt completely comfortable in that studio and doing those asanas. I may not have made it to class more than once a week, but I still felt like a yogi in some sense because of the way it touched me so deeply. I felt the afterglow of yoga for hours, sometimes days, after a class.

I had stopped attending a few months before we moved, two years ago. I have missed it terribly. I have gone to the odd class here or there, but nothing resonated. I have a couple of videos and have used them here and there, but not much. See, I'm a people person. I like the collective energy that comes from a being a part of a class.

I discovered that a yoga studio near our house was running a special deal for new students: $40 for 30 days of unlimited classes. I jumped.

Yesterday was my first class. "Slow Flow" they called it. It flowed, as did my sweat, but I kept up. There were some unfamiliar postures, but I worked through them.  The clientele at this studio are a more upscale and stylish bunch than the earthy folk at my old space. I felt a little out of place in my Target brand yoga pants and an old t-shirt in a crowd of manicured ladies wearing Lululemon gear. Still, it felt good to be back on the mat.

I thought I'd try "Yoga Basics" this morning. I got everybody out of the house and made a nice green juice of spinach, broccoli stalks, pear and ginger, brewed a little coffee for the road and set out in high spirits. Alas, it was not to be: rounding a curve on the way to the studio, my coffee cup tipped over and spilled near-boiling java all over my lap. I almost drove off the road. I pulled into the studio parking lot and surveyed the damage.

I was saturated from stem to stern and reeked of Fog Lifter. Not only would my dampness be a distraction for me, I suspected my aroma might be annoying to others, so I headed home.

Undeterred, I cleaned up and headed back for another go at "Slow Flow," this time with a different instructor. This class was quite different from the previous day's: more meditative and with significantly more inverted postures. Maybe that's what did it: all those inversions.

I have always heard that yoga can bring on emotional release: that bursting into tears during practice is not uncommon. In all my years, it has never happened to me nor, as far as I know, to anyone in a class I have attended. Until today.

During our closing relaxation in savasana, the instructor made her way around the room and gently anointed each of us with aromatherapy oil. She had been very encouraging of me throughout class, and she gave me a brief, gentle neck rub with the scented oil. As she wafted off to the woman lying next to me, I felt a lump in my throat and tears began to pour from my eyes. I suppressed the sobs, not wanting to disturb the peace. I shook on my mat in the darkness, tears rolling down the sides of my face. Tears that came from somewhere deep inside, tears that I didn't even realize I had. There was pain inside me and I could feel it then, though I hadn't (consciously) before.

The instructor invited us to sit up. She thanked us for coming. She looked at me and smiled as if she knew, although I thought I had wiped away the evidence before arising.

"Namaste," she exhaled toward us.

Namaste, indeed.


  1. I have had these experiences.

    Powerful stuff.

    Happy for you.

  2. Sometimes reading a good blog post can bring on a few empathetic tears, too. That yoga allowed you such an obviously necessary release has moved me.

    Only a couple tears here, though, mind you. It's not like I've dropped to the floor and am now corpsing in the hopes of a lovely neck rub.

    Don't be silly.

    So glad you're finding a new space to work out your kinks. I know yoga boosts me on a weekly basis. I'm with you.

  3. I've never done yoga but I've tried other things. Nothing stuck. Until, my partner talked me into joining a gym. Now, I walk. Just walk. Around a lovely padded track with windows all around looking down at a parking lot. We have a treadmill at home. When it's nice, I get plenty of walking exercise walking our dog. But, still. I love those 4 times a week with just me, my ipod and the track. I walk, listen, and think through all the kinks flying around in my head. I have no idea why this works so much better than my treadmill, but it does. And I have found that I problem solve like nobody's business when I walk around that track. What works, works.