I’m a born again yogi.
I remember practicing yoga as a teenager in high school. When I had woken up too early one morning I was flipping through channels and found an early-morning 1-hour yoga program. (Well, it was early morning for my 15-year-old self. It started at 5:30 a.m. Today, I’m halfway through my morning run by 5:30.) I would get ready for school (hair, makeup) but stay in my pajamas to practice yoga for an hour along with the absurdly flexible white man who jammed out to the coolest music I had ever heard. The names of the songs would pop up on the bottom of the TV screen and I’d write a few of them down to download later. I have a CD somewhere around here that has “Yoga mix” scrawled across it in purple Sharpie. I wish I could remember the songs that were on it!
Anyway, at 6:30, I’d quickly put on my school clothes and shoes and bolt out the door to walk to the bus stop at the nearby elementary school. By 6:40 I was on the bus headed to a long day of classes and then cross country or track practice, depending on the season.
I don’t remember how long that lasted. I do remember continuing it during the summer months, but I wouldn’t wake up each weekday to practice. I was a teenager; I slept in sometimes.
After that I dabbled in yoga here and there, usually with a DVD and eventually with OnDemand services. Whenever a Groupon or Living Social deal would pop up for a yoga studio, I’d buy it and do yoga like crazy for a month or a week. At a raffle I won a week pass for unlimited yoga classes at Blue Moon, the only place locally that specializes in hot Bikram yoga. In those 7 days I think I took 5 classes. But the pass expired and I felt that the studio membership was too rich for my blood — plus the studio was across town.
Here I am again, in the middle — literally, Day 15 — of a month-long unlimited pass for Perfect Balance Yoga. I’ve attended 12 classes. Some of those have been within the same day. I can’t get enough!
I love Perfect Balance because the classes are so diverse. I do gentle flow yoga Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 5:30 to 6:30. On Sunday mornings and Monday evenings I’m drenched — dripping — sweat in heated Vinyasa. I have attended community yoga and a back to basics class. I go to whichever class my daily schedule accommodates.
Today I missed out on gentle flow because of my husband’s work schedule, so I halfway made up for it by practicing on my own in the gym at work. (Yup, my employer spoils us with a full-stocked gym on the third floor.)
I was stoked to realize that I can do some pretty great Vinyasa-ing based on memory. My body naturally flows into the next pose. I was even saying the sanskrit word for some of the poses in my head as I did them.
Tadasana (mountain) — Uttanasana (forward fold) — Ardha Uttanasana (halfway fold) — Uttanasana (forward fold) — bring the feet back for high plank — Chaturanga Dandasana (low plank) — upward-facing dog — pushup — downward facing dog — lift the right leg up — lunge it forward between the hands — crescent pose — plant the heel for Virabhadrasana (warrior 1) — Warrior 2 — left hand slides down the leg, right hand stretches toward the ceiling — right forearm rests on left thigh, left arm extends over the ear — full bind in Warrior 2 — release to chaturanga dandasana — upward dog — down dog — hop the feet to the front of the mat — uttansana — tadasana … repeat on the left leg.
Sorry if that was hard to follow. If you know the poses it’s easy to visualize the body flowing from one pose to the next. If you’re not familiar with yoga, it’s a bunch of staccato gibberish.
I flowed easily from one pose to the next, then got down on the mat for some cat/cows, bow poses and a full pigeon pose on each side.
Before I knew it, I had been practicing for 25 minutes — without an instructor! Because my lunch break was almost over, I decided to try shavasana.
In all 12 yoga classes I have taken over the past two weeks, I have fallen asleep in every. single. shavasana. But in class, the lights are turned out and there is either silence or very soft, meditative music. Today, I happened to be in a brightly-lit company gym with two women about four feet from me doing pushups, planks and moves with free weights following along to an extremely loud video on the television.
How am I supposed to shavasana with these shenanigans?
I tried it anyway. I got into cobbler’s pose, which is unusual for me in shavasana. I guess I was trying to make myself as short as I could so I wasn’t in the way of the workout women. I closed my eyes and shavasana’d with all my might. After a few minutes, I started to drift into that la-la-land, somewhere between awake and asleep. I didn’t quite conk out but I was in a deeply rested, meditative state. I woke myself up before truly falling asleep, wiped off my mat and returned it to the wall of the gym.
“Was that yoga you were doing?” asked one of the workout women.
“Where did you learn it? Do you get it from a book or something or do you go to class?”
“I’ve been going to classes,” I said with a smile.
She looked impressed, but then returned to her video — the 20-second rest between moves was over, according to the sports bra-wearing blonde onscreen who kept saying annoying things like, “Work those arms! Don’t you want to look sexy in your tank tops and dresses?” (Why can’t women just “work their arms” to be strong? … I envision a future blog post on this.)
I changed back into my work clothes and logged my half-hour yoga sesh on Strava. (Alas, it doesn’t count unless it’s documented on social media! Ha!)
I returned to my cubicle with a huge sense of accomplishment. I always feel great after a yoga class — heated vinyasa is no joke; I’m extremely fatigued after those 90 minutes — but I felt especially accomplished after my solo yoga practice. I LOVE running because I can do it whenever, wherever, and I don’t need anyone else there to do it with me. Now I’m on that same level in my yoga practice. I don’t need an instructor to flow through a couple dozen poses. I truly value independence, and today I realized I’m not dependent on a yoga teacher or a class or a studio or a DVD. I’m my own yogi.
But I encountered just one problem. To whom do you say “Namaste” when you practice alone? Yourself? “The light within me honors the light within … me?”
Why not honor ourselves?
^^ This is my daughter, son and best friend. The yoga bug has bitten all of us!