I have been doing yoga for 30 years. And I have only learned one thing: I’m just a beginner.
Back in June I began thinking it would be interesting to see what might happen if I challenged myself to take one yoga class a day. I wanted to do this for a few reasons. Establish a routine. Be a part of a community of like minded spirits. Move the body.
I figured it was a tall order so I started small. I challenged myself to take one class, everyday, one day at a time. I like making complicated things simple, so I looked for the yoga studio closest to where I live and work. I lucked out. The closest yoga studio turned out to be on the property of a local vineyard about a mile from home. The classes, never crowded, were held under a big white tent, the fancy kind pitched for big outdoor events. The view, of sprawling green graced with whimsical wooden sculptures by the vineyard owner, was inspiring. The sky seemed to go on forever. What I came to love most was how the indoor/outdoor location enabled me to view and experience the changing weather. I couldn’t help but remember that nothing stays the same just watching the clouds roll by.
I challenged myself to tune in to all 6 of my senses while there. I didn’t want to miss a thing. On the first day, I purchased an unlimited monthly pass. In the past this hadn’t proved to work to my advantage. I’ve joined plenty of gyms in January only to lose steam by February! “Let’s see what happens,” I said to the instructor. One day at a time, I brought my body there and showed up. I watched my mind and listened to the voices that said I couldn’t do it. It helped that it was a beautiful setting and the teachers were good. But something else was at work within me. A subtle shift in attitude. I was on the road to find out. How I felt, who I was inside this skin I’m in, what my body could and couldn’t do.
Initially, I decided not to become attached to any time of day or any one instructor. I dabbled, trying a class in the early morning, and then another at the end of the day. I took classes with as many different teachers as I could. I wanted to get to know myself better. Discover what worked best for me.
I learned a few new things. For one thing, the purpose of routines. They are comforting. Something that can be counted on in times of change or stress. I found that if I didn’t attach to any part of it, but just stayed present, I could experience each moment as a teaching, a gift. I learned that my body changes every day. And so does my mind, often, with each breath. Every day, every class, every teacher. I took the ‘class a day’ goal seriously but I also realized that my true goal was not to have the expectations of any outcome. Just showing up, to see what might happen.
Mid way through the month, I had to travel away from my daily routine. I missed 3 days of classes. I noticed I felt out of sorts, less focused, less energized, less awake in the morning, groggy rather than crisp and aware. The good ache of having practiced was replaced by the ache of stiffness. I actually started feeling rusty. In the past, such a hiatus made it hard to get back into it, whatever ‘it’ was. But I found myself longing to get back on the mat this time around—to a place where I could investigate the edges of how my body felt that particular day.
That first day back was a killer. I felt out of it and vulnerable, spaced out by the time away and the recurrence of thick, hazy and heavy Summer air. How, I wondered, had I showed up anyway? The instructor sensing my fatigue and imbalance, stood behind me and aligned my body as I attempted to hold a challenging pose. ”No judgement,” she whispered, “just allow.”
I took a few truly memorable classes. One of the most memorable on a stormy day when the sky suddenly filled with a funnel of black clouds. The frenzied breeze that blew propelled my own breath to spiral deeper. The rain that followed was heavy and hard. Rain that breaks heat can sure make you feel grateful. What a treat—to witness the storm. Another class I vividly recall was a restorative class, on a humid still afternoon. It was a slow, repetitive class, that forced me to experience the present moment in minute by minute detail without distraction.
Days passed. I watched the weather and my body—and both kept changing. On the mat, I got to settle down and listen to the quiet. Off the mat, I had this experience: The view outside changed and yet something inside stayed the same. I started to witness and observe what was going on with refined clarity, every little thing. The extraordinary in the absolute ordinary.
How good it feels to just breathe, to take the time to feel the beating of your own heart!
A passage I was sent at month’s end summed it up like this:
Your heart, and only your heart, knows what is best for you. If you are not able to listen to your heart and are in doubt, it’s better to remain quiet so as to increase your energy frequency to the point of being able to listen to existence talking to you. Existence speaks to us through synchronicity; the mysterious coincidences that are always showing us the next steps to take on our evolutionary journeys. Pay attention to the signs, the universe speaks within you through your intuition, and speaks outside of you through synchronicity.
Want to tune in to your higher self?
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Karin Yapalater MFA, CHHC, AADP
Board Certified Individual & Family Health & Nutrition Counselor
Park Avenue Integrative Health Practitioners
715 Park Avenue • New York, NY 10021