Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Practicing yoga like a kid

Last night, following getting caught in the rain (a much needed break in NYC's loco heat wave), I headed on over to YogaWorks for free yoga, day two.

I awkwardly wrangled myself out of my Hunter boots and fleece (!!) amid a group of calm, cool and collected yogis, dropped my things off in the "women's retreat" and started towards Studio 1.

Taking a deep breath, I cautiously stepped my toes into the room as though I were dipping my toes into a lake, testing its temperature. Noting with surprise that the room was comfortably cool, I released my breath with relief and walked with confidence into the studio to establish my space. No hot yoga surprise tonight!

I took the YogaWorks Flow level 2/3 with the hilarious Denise, an older blonde decked out in bright pink who carried absolutely none of the hippie-dippie pretense many instructors seem to be saturated with. Whew! I have a hard time keeping a straight face when many instructors go into overly spiritual mumbo-jumbo, or encourage the class to join in group Sanskrit chants. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but, especially in regards to the group chanting - I have absolutely no idea what I'm saying. I like to entertain myself by imagining the possibilities of what the words mean and what I might be agreeing to. Signing up for a life-time membership at the gym? Pledging that mint chocolate chip is the best flavor of ice cream and I will forever forego all others? Sure!

The class was challenging, but again, the 90 minute format allowed for plenty of relaxation between difficult poses, during which Denise helped us relax further with the ultimate relief - laughter.

I have one brief bragging moment, which is also slightly embarrassing because I am about to brag about a total non-event: for the first time, I did a forearm headstand up against a wall! Yes, with my heels balancing against the wall. So really, I accomplished nothing on the physical level. However, performing this pose was still a huge moment for me as I leapt over a mental hurdle that had been blocking me for quite some time.

I always find head- and handstand poses in yoga utterly daunting as I don't believe I have the balance, coordination or upper body strength to pull them off. Taking a moment to really reflect on that, though, I remember bouncing into handstands as a child when I was even weaker and more uncoordinated than I am today. I've learned that the only thing preventing me from more difficult poses in yoga isn't my own physical limitations, but a lack of a childlike fearlessness. I can't remember when I lost that fearlessness - in physical activity and in my personal life - but by taking a baby step in my headstand practice yesterday, I also took a baby step in regaining it and I am so excited to push myself further and discover where it can take me - in yoga, in running, in my career, in my life. As Denise reminded us during triangle pose, anything we do with intention is "yoga".

YogaWorks win.

Oh, and then I left my yoga mat at the studio, only to realize that as I was getting ready for bed. So YogaWorks wins twice...you're welcome, YW.

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