Many people extol the virtues of Yoga. But for the longest time, I could not see how bending and stretching constituted exercise. If that was so, my daily dose of picking up socks, shoes and teeny, tiny Legos would make me a workout goddess. I’d tried it once, fell asleep during the meditation and dismissed it (pretty smugly) for the next 5 years.
But variety is the spice of life. I’d like to say I’m a try-anything-once kind of gal, except that’s not completely true. I can safely say I’ll never consume raw fish, never bungee jump and never watch a TV show with Kardashians in the title. But eventually running the same three miles, a couple of days a week, can get a little old (as will those Kardashians, even with Botox).
Right before the holidays, I joined a class led by my friend Hollie who runs a daycare. Now, running a daycare has got to be one of the most stressful jobs, besides of course being a mom. But Hollie is always calm and smiling. She’s got inner peace. Plus, I’ve been looking for a way to grow as a person, to become more patient and more intentional. A little bit of Hollie’s inner peace would not be a bad thing to have.
So at 6:15 one Tuesday morning, I donned black flare pants and something funky, sleeveless and stretchy on top, which I believe is the yoga uniform. In the activity center of a nearby church, several women were rolling out their mats and stretching. Hollie played peaceful music from her iPhone and lit a candle in the center of the group.
You’ve got to love an exercise that starts with “bring your hands to your heart.” We did poses with funny names which sounded like Sunbrella Settee, Kowabunga and Akira Kurosawa. The first one is the hands-to-your-heart one. The second is a Yoga pushup. The third is an Asian movie director. Plus, we did downward dog, dolphin and reverse prayer to name a few. Hollie also has a move we’ll call Kielbasa, which either means Polish sausage, boat pose or torture. Take your pick.
When we did body bends and the seated straddle, Hollie instructed us to touch our toes. I hated to tell her, that I already was trying. My years of disdaining yoga, however, had left me completely inflexible. The closest I could get was my ankles. Similarly in life, my impatience and drive to get things done has made me as stiff and rigid as my limbs. But, at least I was here working on it.
Lastly, we meditated. For five minutes, we sat in a circle at peace. I closed my eyes and felt calm and empowered. Plus, any workout that ends with a good sit, is up my alley.
The next day, I was sore. Everywhere. I mentioned my new try at Yoga and how I had previously not thought it a workout to my friend and co-worker Sabrina. She encouraged me to continue and gleefully pulled out her phone to show me pictures of her buff, buff yogi. He was doing one handed balance pose (crow) in the picture. He was totally ripped. I understood the workout.
One take-away has been the Sunbrella Settee pose, bringing my hands to my heart. I use it when I need to call on my inner peace. For example when my husband says something like, “We can’t spend any money this weekend,” in the same breath as he says, “We have to go grocery shopping.” I bring my hands to my heart and close my eyes. He knows to back off and says, “Namaste?” This phrase means “The light in me recognizes the light in you.” I simply nod and say, “Namaste,” back to him.
It was sometime in January after weeks of faithful Tuesday morning sessions that I looked down to see I was actually touching my toes. I was so surprised. Though it has not happened again, it was a promise of good things to come. Similarly, with practice, I’m hoping to permanently become a more patient and meditative person. With time, maybe I’ll surprise myself in life too.