I love yoga. It is my go-to workout for everything from simply feeling good about my body’s physicality to needing the hour or more of meditation and silence. I am a serious practitioner. By serious I don’t mean that I practice every day or that I have mastered all of the advanced asanas, just that I take my practice seriously and use it for the intended purpose: silence and concentration on the self and the moment.
When I go to my mat, my mind empties, and for 90 minutes I am inside my body. Nothing else matters, nothing else weighs on my mind, but where my body feels tight, where it feels hung up, and where my breath needs to go, the spaces it needs to fill.
I discovered yoga fairly late after the craze had really taken off. I used to see all the yogis coming out of the hot studio at my the fancy health club to which I once belonged when I was single and think, “Why?” I couldn’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to torture themselves with excessive heat and attempts to contort their slick and sweaty bodies into pretzel-like positions. Every once in a while, the door would open as a class participant exited to get water or use the bathroom, and I would wince to see people balancing on their arms or standing on their heads or sitting on their mat with their legs stuck behind their heads. I just couldn’t understand it.
But then a girlfriend dared me to take a class with her, and anyone who knows me well knows that I cannot turn my back on a dare. Or at least I couldn’t at that stage of my life. I probably couldn’t now, either, but there are far fewer toxic people in my life now than there were then, so I’m not getting dares thrown at me much anymore. And for the record, that girlfriend who dared me? She’s the same one who turned me on to sushi and helped me to keep my head up after my divorce in 2002; she is decidedly not toxic, and I wish we still lived in the same city so we could see one another more often.
After that first class, I was hooked. I didn’t think for the entire class, and I felt so cleansed as I exited. Sweaty like I had just left a sauna and definitely craving a shower, but my soul felt good. I felt as if some of the baggage I’d been carrying around for the two years since my divorce had been left on the floor of the yoga room, crushed under my mat and mopped up after class. I felt cared for and safe.
Yoga has been a place of safety for me since that first class. I have an elliptical machine in my basement, but I don’t really ever use it because I don’t feel the same cleanliness afterwards. I don’t really feel much of anything except relief that I’ve watched and deleted some shows from my DVR.
My husband and I are in the middle of a ludicrous situation at the moment involving a third party, and yoga is keeping me grounded, giving me the space to smile through it and know that it will all work out for the best. I know that no matter how wound up I might get, the moment I go to my mat, it all disappears, and for the next hour and a half, nothing exists. In that time, my entire world consists of the mat on which I sit. I don’t think about the laundry that needs to be done, the bills that need to be paid, the duties that await me as class parent for my son’s kindergarten class, playdate and activity schedule for the next day off from school, or anything else.
And when I’ve risen from my Shavasana, my mind is cleansed. I know that my time has been well-spent, my practice a journey to finding my deepest nature. I walk back out to reality pulsing positive energy out into the universe. I begin the rest of my day with the knowledge that it will all be okay, whatever “it” may be. I know that the universe will take my positive energy and use it well, reflecting positive energy back to me. My devotion to practice will reward me with serenity and balance.
Yoga is my friend.