Until the past couple of months I never really “got” yoga. I have to admit, I kind of thought of it like Tae-bo or Pole Dancing (no judgment, only love), a trend that would see it’s time and then we’d all move on, instead of seeing it as the ages-old practice that it is. Part of the idea behind starting this new blog was to share things that inspire me, in hopes of just maybe inspiring others as well. And one of the things that has most inspired me during these months has been yoga. So at the risk of sounding like I drank the yoga juice, I’m going to go ahead and write about it.
As I said, I never really “got” yoga. I’d tried it on and off for years, went to yoga classes at the gym or while on vacation, a free community drop-in here, a DVD there, but each time I would spend the majority of the class watching the clock and thinking about the bagel waiting for me on the other side.
The first time I did yoga with any consistency was during the week leading up to my wedding. My friend Shauna had just opened her own yoga studio and gave me free classes to keep me calm during the circus of wedding preparations. I took her up on it, mainly to support her, partially to get some exercise as a bonus but never put much thought into it. I went to the first class and it was good but I still found myself loathing certain poses and feigning interest at the breath-of-fire exercises but then I realized I’d just had a whole 60 minutes of relative calm. So on that basis alone I continued all week, realizing it may be the only peace and exercise I would have until after the wedding. Slowly I found myself looking forward to certain poses and recognizing the sequence. The more I did them, the more I craved them. And without realizing it was even happening, I would leave each class with a sense of calm unheard of in most brides.
About 10 days later we emerged from a wedding-haze onto the beautiful islands of French Polynesia. Here, as the sun rose over the Pacific Ocean, was the perfect setting to re-start my nascent yoga practice. I got up early those mornings, found a spot on our little strip of beach and started my own improvised version of Hatha Yoga, comprised of whatever I could remember from Shauna’s class.
I found that the days I did my practice I felt energized and was in a good mood all day while the ones where I laid in bed I didn’t feel like doing anything but lie by the pool (not too bad either!) And the longer I did it, the more I just felt better. Not that I felt bad before, but I just felt better.
Healthier. Happier. Better.
From our first little secluded island of Taha’a we headed to the beautiful island of Bora Bora. We had one of those private over-water-bungalows you see in ads for paradise. I kept up my daily (ok, almost daily) ritual of yoga by the ocean at sunrise…or soon thereafter.
The resort also offered free yoga classes. Their classes were held on a beautiful yoga deck (complete with gong), that stood out over the lagoon so you could catch either the sunrise or sunset perfectly from your cobra pose. The teacher was this impossibly perfect, adorable pregnant woman from Barcelona. Listening to the “zth”s of her Catalan accent on this perfect yoga deck over this perfect lagoon, overlooking the famous cliffs of Bora Bora, the entire thing was just surreal. These classes over the lagoon were beyond beautiful. It was amazing to think that when the instructor says picture yourself in the most beautiful calming place on earth, you don’t need to “picture” anything, you’re already there.
So maybe I did in fact drink the juice, and it was likely in that very moment on the yoga deck overlooking the lagoon, that I swallowed. I was hooked.
Then, as they say, the honeymoon was over and with coming home came all the interruptions of daily life and with it, the disappearance of my baby practice. I’ve started back on my own and in some ways doing the poses again felt a bit like a coming-home but I also found that after being away from it for a while, I started to dread all the same poses I had initially dreaded and started to get bored again. But the more I practice the better I feel.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m going to become a yogi or go live in an ashram or open a yoga studio. I’m just saying for other yoga neophytes who’ve tried and passed, it might be worth trying again.
Now I’m not saying this from a “preaching” place, even as I write this I’m far from having a “practice” yet. I still don’t do yoga every day or even every other day, but I’m working on it. I don’t know all the health benefits or all the statistics on yoga but I know all I need to; yoga just makes me feel better, and that’s enough for me.
Stay tuned for Yogic Adventures Part II: Bikram for Beginners