Friday, April 16, 2010

Oooh, yoga yoga

It's been a while since I've written, or frankly, done much of anything related to fitness in the past two months. I've been working with clients, and though my mind has been in fitness, my body has been on a sabbatical of sorts. I returned just a week or two ago, to yoga, if nothing else. I was nervous walking back into my old Thursday class, thinking (with the ego as my guide) that people would have noticed I'd gone missing and ask where I'd been. They hadn't.

Upon my return, my first yoga class found me on the mat with a disquieted mind. I was early and couldn't decide how to occupy my time. What did I usually do while waiting for class to begin? Child's pose? Twists? I couldn't remember. So I sat there, rather uncomfortably, until I remembered to let go of my ego and breathe. The class was incredible, and reminded me that not only did my body need yoga, but my mind did, too. I vowed to keep my yoga classes on my schedule at (nearly) all cost.

I had signed up to take Anusara Yoga with Bruce Bowditch at the yoga studio, Prana Yoga. I was nervous, not sure that I was up to it. Bowditch is a visiting yogi, coming for a weekend workshop of classes. His photo showed him in a seemingly impossible plastic man pose, and I was nervous that being in the studio with him for two hours just might make me feel like a yoga dunce. But deeper inside, I knew that the opportunity to take a class with him would offer something even greater - inner growth.

I went to bed last night, after a relatively wonderful evening with Ward, both exhausted and nervous. Exhausted from the events of the day, and nervous for the Bowditch class that was the next morning. I decided to breathe through the feelings and trust that I could handle the class.

Class was this morning. I went in, and told Bowditch that I wasn't sure I was advanced enough to handle the class. He asked about injuries (I have none), and what my experience was, then said I'd be fine, and he'd watch and help me, if needed. The class began with a small intro about who he is and how he'd come to find yoga, and then went into a series of communial Oms and chanting. I got lost in it all. Hands in Anjali mudra, the warm room, and all the voices Om-ing in unison. Unbelievable.

After some down dogs and a few other asanas, he went into handstands. For those who hadn't done them before (me), we went to a wall together and Bowditch showed us the prep pose for handstands (think down dog but with your feet at hip height up all wall. It was amazing. Going up, there was the strength challenge, followed by the feeling that I might topple over. The entire body has to be activated to maintain a solid position. Mostly, though, I found that I needed to say to myself, over and over, Trust yourself. You can do this.

As the (two hour) class wound down, I became a bit sad. I didn't want it to end. I liked feeling challenged, and I liked feeling powerful. I knew that there were more classes being offered this weekend, but not sure if my schedule allowed for another two hours away. If I can, I thought, will be heading back this weekend. Tomorrow's class is back bends, my favorite.

I realize that I need yoga for many reasons. Aside from the obvious, I found that challenging myself, pushing to my edge, helps my inner strength. Focusing on my breath, and the position of my muscles, takes my mind away from the non-important crap that exists in my life. The greatest gift that I receive from yoga is that, when I am practicing, I am honoring myself in ways I've never done before.

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