For the first time in about seven months, I practiced yoga. Not a whole lot. Not a full class. But my feet met the mat, and I took the time to breathe. I made the effort to connect my ever frantic mind to my ever striving, often stumbling, body. It was awkward. It was wonderful.
My first class was about a year and a half ago. There were several factors that spurred me to start: friends had been recommending it for years. It’s complimentary cross-training to cardio-kickboxing. I’ve always longed for that lean, gorgeous line, for flexibility, for both strength and balance. I tried a class. When it was done, I felt lighter, taller, straighter. It was as if I was buoyed up from my center, and I was stepping less heavily upon the earth. I was smitten.
Though it’s physically challenging and rewarding, so far the greatest benefits of yoga take place away from the studio, away from the mat. Mind, I’m a work in progress, but the simple idea of presence has infused my daily life. Stuck in traffic, on hold with customer service, challenging personal conversations, waiting behind a difficult customer at the grocery store… the only thing within my control is how I react to these situations. This extends to how I respond to others, whether piloting a vehicle or navigating a conversation. Sure, I’m still full of self-doubt and self-recrimination. I’m impatient. I’m prone to frustration and anger and tears. But the seed has been planted. I find myself taking a moment, taking a breath. Not all the time, but some of it. That’s better than where I was 18 months ago. Even if this bears no other fruit, I see no harm of trying to cultivate a bit more peace and kindness in my life, and in this world.
Practicing yoga keeps me attuned to that. Marrying breath to movement, closing my eyes and focusing, balancing and reaching, opening and releasing physically and spiritually. Laughing when I (inevitably) topple. Smiling and singing along with the playlist. Sharing the space with others on their own, similar yet singular paths. It’s pretty great. I’m glad to be back.
Now, do I want to be slim, sculpted, gorgeous, and bendy? You’re damned right. But I’ll take the more immediate, more important benefits, and keep working toward the rest. Namaste.
*all my love if you get the reference.