One of my new ventures this year is a yoga class twice a week. Obviously, I am several centuries/generations/cultures behind others who have engaged in this ancient physical/spiritual practice over time. I’m 100% aware of how late I am to this game. I am still very much a back row beginner and super clear on the fact that I know almost nothing about yoga.
There is, however, an ancient saying, When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I think it just took me a while to be ready for what yoga had to teach me.
I love the quietness of it. I love the stretching and the physical challenge. I love that our teacher said early on yoga is not supposed to hurt. I tell myself when it starts hurting, which helps. I love noting my steady progress. Some things I absolutely could not do at the beginning, I do pretty well now.
What I was not expecting were the life lessons. Last class, I wished for a notepad to jot down what our teacher was saying. Then, I realized, of course, writing would not be possible while doing yoga. You pretty much need your hands to hold you up, balance, stretch and pose.
So, I can only share the good lessons that I remember. Here are a few:
Yoga is not a competitive sport. It is all about what you challenge yourself to do. This is so refreshing. 100% of my focus is on what I can do better each time, stretching a little further, balancing a little longer and no one else.
This teaching is closely related to one I made up. No one is looking at you in your yoga pants because they are focusing on their own balance, poses and issues. Get over it.
Falling is part of the pose. Don’t worry about it. I almost screamed with delight when she taught us this. Falling is part of the pose! It is also part of every single thing I’ve ever experienced in life. Imagine finding a way to tell yourself with each fall, “this is fall is part of the pose.”
In the course of each class, there are resting moments sprinkled among the hard ones. Our teacher says, Enjoy the pause. Drink it in. I want to do that better in life: enjoying the break, the weekend, the deep breath, the nap, the meal, the drink of water, the park bench, the good night’s sleep.
At the end we do this relaxing thing. It is only a few minutes long and it has long yoga name. Our teacher talks us through relaxing every part of our body, softening, she says. Soften your forehead, your face and so on. As everything softens she says, now, relax more deeply. This also makes me want to scream in happiness. Did anyone out there know you can relax more deeply than even your most relaxed self?
Our teacher says, search your body and your soul and let go of what you do not need. It is okay to let go of what you do not need. Just, let it go. I’m still happy screaming, silently and in a relaxed way, of course.
At the end, with prayer hands, we whisper Namaste to each other. This means the divine in me honors the divine in you. In today’s world, I believe that one word, Namaste, could possibly transform everyone and everything. What if we honored the divine in every single person we met, from every single walk of life? What if the Republicans and Democrats started with that? Or, the Christians and Muslims? Or people of each race? I could go on and on. Namaste.
The pose in the picture is called the Half Moon. I can pretty much do that pose and hold it when I’m not falling (which as I mentioned is part of the pose.) I think it is pretty close to a full on cartwheel. Namaste and happy silent screaming to you.