I walked into my hot yoga class the other day and laid down my mat in the exact same place I’ve put it for every single session I go to- front left corner, facing the mirror. I noticed some of my fellow yogis starring at me with looks of uncertainty… almost disgust. I thought to myself, well this isn’t normal…this isn’t “namaste” of you. A girl beside me then whispered, “the instructor does the class in a circle.” Ummmm WHAT!? I hadn’t been to this particular class before. A new teacher. So with hesitation and a slight eye roll, I took in a deep breath and followed suit. I then found myself face to face with other humans, inches a part on our mats. The yoga teacher walks in and the first thing she says is how some of us are most likely “out of our comfort zone.” (You bet I am sista!). Let’s remember that we are in a HOT yoga class. Therefor it’s like doing yoga in a sauna… and you usually sweat. Buckets and buckets of sweat. So being inches away from a stranger, staring at other strangers… ya, not really comfortable. All I could think about was the scene from Wizard of Oz…. melllllllttttting!!!
The yoga teacher then explains why we are facing each other rather than front forward to the mirrors. “You judge yourself all day. When you look in the mirror you start judging. You get distracted. ‘Yuck my hair is a mess. Why can she bend like that? What’s wrong with my arm? Where did she get those pants?’.” Check, check, check. Totally guilty. But really… oooooh where did she get those pants!?
Okay. I get it. But I’m still not sure if I like it. But I hear you. Class starts and and I soon forget my discomfort with the circle and the change in the room. Why…because I am in the moment, focusing so hard on my poses and on my breathing. That’s the thing with yoga, it’s much more than just exercise, its about lessons. Yoga teaches you thousands of lessons (some that you don’t even realize) that go way beyond class and into every day life. The more I go to yoga class, the more I learn and the more I am able to handle the little speed bumps life throws my way.
As human beings we naturally resist change (yoga in a circle….ahhhhhh) because of how scary it might appear to be, but vulnerability is what brings people together and creates bonds. In yoga class, we are taking a crazy journey together…literally and figuratively. In case you aren’t familiar with the meaning of yoga, it comes from the Sanskrit to join or to unite. This is what yoga is really all about. It’s not about the buff arms and tight tushes, or looking like Jennifer Aniston – although she did claim that yoga is the ONLY exercise she does (and she is 48). But yes, yoga is a tool that connects us with ourselves, with each other and with the world around us.
Whether you’ve gone to yoga for 10 years or two weeks, yoga will always teach you something new that really doesn’t have anything to do with working out at all (the exercise is just a bonus). Obviously there is a reason why this ancient practice has stood the test of time. Other teachings I’ve learned this past year that have guided me in the real world and have helped me bay awesome:
- It’s okay to fall. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve toppled over on my mat…It’s probably just about as many times as I’ve messed up in the real world. You’re going to fall a lot (in yoga and in life)… it’s part of being human. If you get wobbly, it only means you’re trying. Just get back up and start again.
- Let go of perfection. It does not exist and it’s only going to stress you out. There are a million and one ways to do dancer’s pose. We are all different shapes, sizes… we aren’t programmed to do things exactly the same.
- Drink a lot of water. Always.
- Don’t worry about what people are doing around you. Focus on you.
- Smile when you are challenged. Smile hard.
- Listen to your body. Do as your body asks of you. If you need to rest, rest.
- Getting sweaty is good. It means you are working it. Keep going. And no, you don’t look like the wicked witch of the west.
- Having a goal and a focal point makes things easier. Find your drishti and stare it down.
- Simple is not always easy. Go at your own pace.
And most importantly, when all else fails, in life and in yoga, just breathe through it. If you don’t breathe you die.
Namaste to that. Now go, Bay Awesome xo
It’s good to step out of your comfort zone. You grow. In the end, I actually really enjoyed the circle yoga class. I went back, but still thought of the Wizard of Oz…
Happy 2nd Birthday Bay Awesome. A huge thank you to every single one of you who has taken the time to read my blog, share Bay Awesome, for the support, advice and comments to help me grow. And a HUGE thank you for giving me an outlet to live my passion. You are all awesome!!!
Picture by the lovely Jamie Olsen of Jamie Dawn Photography.