Someone asked me recently how long I have been practicing yoga. I had to stop and do some math. I went to my first yoga class when I was in graduate school, near the end of 1998. We had purchased a gym membership and the yoga class was one of the class offerings, along with kickboxing. I started going to the kickboxing classes first and then decided to give the yoga class a try. And I hated it. That first class was ridiculous. I didn't know anything about form or proper alignment. I didn't know any of the poses. I didn't feel like I had the strength or flexibility to do more than half of the poses. I thought was going to hyperventilate from trying to breath in unison with the teacher. There was no sitting in lotus. It was a full on vinyasa flow class. I hated every minute of it.
That first class made me feel inadequate in so many ways. Mostly I was disappointed because I had assumed that yoga was something that I would have really liked. I have never been the sporty type. You might remember the times I attempted softball and both years ended up with a giant fat lip from getting hit in the face with a softball? I was really good at pulling flags off of belts in flag football, but I think that was just a fluke. I did like kickboxing. There was something very thrilling about kicking that bag hard enough to move it across the floor. Kickboxing made me more aggressive and when that class got a new teacher, it shifted from form and technique to preppy jazzercise while kicking a bag. I wasn't into it any more. That's usually what happens with me and exercise fads. But YOGA?! Yoga should have had my name written all over it. So.. I went back and I continued to go back to this class. I didn't love it, but I started to get it. Of course, knowing what I know now, I would have never started out in an all-levels-gym yoga class. I will tell any one who wants to start doing yoga to start in a beginning basics class. A beginning basic yoga class teaches you how to build a strong foundation for the yoga poses and how to move between poses with ease and mindfulness. You learn the easy way how to do chaturanga.
My yoga practice today is soooo different from those early days of yoga. Almost twenty years of continuously getting on my mat almost daily and I still struggle with arm balances. I use a wall as a prop in headstand and my feet don't come up over my head in full salabhasana. There are poses that I struggle with often, but I have found joy and beauty in my practice. I love my yoga practice. This is something I can truly be thankful for. I am grateful for this body that has allowed me to continue my yoga practice. I have considered celebrating my twenty year yogaversary next year. Maybe I'll replace my yoga mat that now has well worn grooves from my hands and feet pressing into it daily. I'd really like to go on a yoga retreat. Talaura suggested Thailand. I could do a yoga retreat in Thailand. I've always wanted to do a surfing/ yoga retreat. Maybe that's what I'll do. I would need to start saving my pennies now though. Any way, celebrating twenty years of a yoga practice just seems like a really nice idea.
I am thankful for a bountiful harvest of purple-hulled peas from our garden. I am thankful for the sudden rain shower that cooled things off for about ten minutes. I am thankful for a clean puppy dog. I am thankful for the bowl full of eggs sitting next to our kitchen sink. I am thankful for you.