I went to a yoga class at work on Tuesday. Usually I just go on Wednesdays, but I was feeling the need for some discipline. I snuck into Amie’s yoga flow class knowing that I could easily disappear into a corner. The previous week, she had been teaching the class the basics of Ashtanga yoga and for today’s class she wanted to continue with that theme but incorporate more of the seated postures. If you are not familiar with an Ashtanga practice, you will hear the words “seated postures” and feel some comfort in knowing that you will be just sitting around on your mat. ‘Seated’ sounds easy and yes, once your butt is on the mat, the pose that follows is simple. It’s the getting there and getting out parts that are hard. It starts in down dog and involves bringing the weight into your hands and shoulders as you hop up and swing your legs through. Then you do all of this in reverse to get out.
Give me the fundamental standing asanas any day. The sweep through thing has never been my strong suit.
From the grumblings of some of the other students in the class, I take it it is not their favorite thing either. But the occasional Ashtanga practice is good for you. It’s simple, yet challenging and for certain personalities (or doshas) it is a practice that can take you out of a comfort zone. The full Ashtanga practice is not my yoga practice though. I prefer a more body balanced practice then what Ashtanga provides, but often modify an Ashtanga series to my own needs. I was thinking about my yoga needs while trying to fling my body forward into a seated position and doing some math in Tuesday’s class and I figured out that 2019 is my 20 year yoga anniversary. It will be twenty years since I walked in and attended my very first yoga class, which happened to be an Ashtanga class.
I hated it.
I’m not kidding.
I hated that first class, but I went back for more because I am prideful and refuse to accept failure. I recognize that hating my first yoga class is not a failure. It just seemed like a failure to me at the time because I thought (had set myself up for it) I would love yoga. And I do love yoga. Just not Ashtanga yoga. Twenty years later and I don’t hate Ashtanga any more either. That one class opened me up to the giant world of yoga and a yoga practice that brings me joy and comfort. It also gave me something that I have not found in any other format and that is body confidence. Being on my mat is the one place where I am not just comfortable in my skin, but where I truly feel like this body is beautiful. Yoga has also given me a community of women who are all strong, beautiful and so ridiculously supportive. Karen, my yoga teacher, continues to be a source of reference and knowledge in all things yoga and life. Then there’s Shannon, who talked me into teaching again. She set me up with Kelli Austin at Sunshine Yoga who promoted my strap workshop without really even knowing me. Now I have Kelly, who’s joy of life radiates out of her like an atom bomb.
Kelly made me realize something today. She teaches the Wednesday lunch time class that I normally attend and today I was her only student. I had stepped back to plank and suddenly I hear her exclaim “Oh my gosh! Look at how you’re on the tips of your toes! I’ve never seen anybody do that. It’s like you’re floating!” First, I had no idea that I was doing this in plank pose. Secondly, it makes me laugh because if she only knew how much I struggled with plank in those early years of yoga. Now I was making it look effortless, like I was floating. For my next trick, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. No really, what is my next trick? I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want for 2019 and one of those things is to celebrate my yoga anniversary. I’ve already signed up for an anatomy of yoga workshop in February, but I’d like to speckle the year with attending yoga workshops. Maybe this is the year I finally take a Kundalini yoga class or I find a teaching gig at one of the studios near me.
I do know that I want to spend more time in the vicinity of the kind of women who constantly cheer each other on.