Yoga: It took me a while to really “get into” it. I dabbled here and there, but I never went regularly. I didn’t get the hype, I didn’t get the vibe (in fact, I rolled my eyes a bit at it), and I could barely touch my shins, which was discouraging. But, like many who embark upon a fitness journey, I decided I needed to give it more of a chance. I decided to go to class. And go again. My body was craving something different from power walks, running, lifting, and the stair climber. Here’s what I realized…
Yoga is for everybody. As in every BODY. Every single body – big, small, fat, long, short, skinny, old, young, thick as a brick, trim, tall, bulky, shaped like a ball…everybody’s body loves yoga. A body loves to stretch and move, and breath and let go. A body loves to lay down and flow. A body loves to be in a peaceful state of semi-conscious relaxation, mixed with meditation. A body loves being rhythmically, lyrically whispered to – oh those sacred, peaceful words. It craves lovely, healing, silence. A body loves it.
Yoga makes you feel a little weird at first. Well, I’ll speak for myself. All the little things that make up a yoga class…for example, sometimes there is a gong. Sometimes there is a singing bowl. Most times your teacher will request that you join him or her in the sound of OM to open and close your practice. When you are new to yoga, simply calling it a “practice” is a little peculiar. The prayer hands, the focus, the breath, the soft music – when you are a person used to running, sweating, lifting (aggressive, physical acts), the soothing part of a yoga class seems a bit weird. But, it doesn’t take long to realize how wonderful it is! When you decide to stop rolling your eyes and respectfully learn and practice and find your own yoga…and really listen, you realize how important it is. Yoga is an expression of love – the care and keeping of yourself, plain and simple. A ceremonious gong or OM will get your attention and call you into and out of yourself – into and out of a focused, heat building, breathing dynamic that delights and strengthens every inch of your mind, body, and soul. A body loves being cared for.
In a yoga class, sometimes people fall, topple over. Sometimes you hear cracks and creeks, or an audible “aaaah”. There are giggles and moans. Each class is its’ own community of warriors who flip the switch to “learning” instead of “knowing”. A good instructor teaches. A great instructor will learn alongside you as the class progresses. Yoga is fun and sometimes funny! This is what the human body does…it laughs because it’s not perfect. It expresses in the exhale…just let it. A body loves it.
When you get it, you really do get it. And you get all the beautiful things that come with prolonged stretching, bending, and reaching. All those little places in your body that get little or no attention at all – the hard and the soft – the unreachable edges – those places dance a joyful jig. Because a body simply and truly loves it.
Remember to breathe. Buddha will smile and your body will thank you.
Props are just there to help. They are like little friends. Your strap is your therapist, your block is your best pal who knows all your secrets, and your bolster is just there to support, like your mom or your sister. A body loves props, they are always welcome, so do invite them to the party.
In yoga, one of the best things you can do for yourself if you don’t want to look silly is practice knowing your right from your left. Seriously. And you know I’m not the only one with this problem. So write it on your hands and feet if you have to. You’ll be happy I shared this wonderful tip.
Clarity, breath, presence, intention, engage, flow, progression, balance, connection, inhale, exhale, reach, awaken, heal, explore, release, evolve, practice. Yes, yes, yes – these are all words a body loves.
When you bring your mat and roll it out, know that it’s ready to take whatever you are going to give it. Put your shit down on that mat and leave it there. A body wants to leave a cartload of hardships, difficulties, sorrows, hurts, pains, doubts, and self-judgments on that mat. Go ahead, expel your demons…that mat will consume negativity like a sponge pulls water. In fact, when mat shopping, it’s best to choose a thick one. Extra absorbent. Fill it up. It’s there to take it from you, and love you back.
Downward Facing Dog and Happy Baby could quite possibly change your life. If Downward Facing Dog and Happy Baby were made out of chocolate they would be Lava Cake and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie. A body loves all four of these things equally. Mamma doesn’t play favorites.
Expect pit and crack sweat. Expect a swamp on your lower back. About half way through a yoga class you will realize that yes, this is indeed a workout, and it’s kicking your ass. But, you know my dear, your body loves it.
Yoga is not a competition. Leave your ego inside your shoes outside the door when you enter class. You don’t have to be better than anyone else. Yoga is divine nourishment when you practice listening inwardly. Yoga is a fiery birthing of the beloved within. Be courageous, and for goodness sake, close your eyes so you can see! See new again and again. You are here on this Earth to bring about your own divinity – to experience something that is already present within you. Don’t be satisfied with an ordinary experience. Your body…your big, small, fat, long, short, skinny, old, young, thick as a brick, trim, tall, bulky, shaped like a ball…your body loves it.
When your teacher whispers, “meet yourself where you are” just do it. Surrender because it’s the only way you will win. Form your prayer hands, exhale a beautiful OM, and nod. Seek to see the light with your eyes closed. Look for peace and find it within yourself. Whisper Shanti. Whisper Namaste.
Because your body loves it.