Monday, September 27, 2010

Opening to the Present

I approached the studio with sweaty palms and a pounding heart. Part of that was out of nerves and part of it was because I’d spent the last 30 minutes circling the same nine square blocks looking for a parking spot and was certain I was going to be late to my first yoga teacher training weekend. Thankfully, I’d gotten the time wrong and was actually 27 minutes early.

I signed in, picked up my manual and found a spot on the floor in the alcove with a few other early arrivals. They were younger and thinner than me, probably fitter with more yoga experience, as well. Some of the women were in small groups chatting. It appeared they knew each other and the thought that there were already cliques forming gave rise to a bit of anxiety. Would I fit in here? Could I really do this? Was I ready for what lay ahead?

We rolled out our mats along the walls of the studio, all 35 of us—34 women and one man of varying ages, sizes, shapes and backgrounds—facing one another and the center of the room. And that’s how we started. No introductions, no stories, no preparation. We jumped right in.

Standing at the top of our mats, inhaling and raising our arms. Urdhva Hastasana. Folding forward, exhaling. Uttanasana. Lifting halfway up on the inhale, backs flat. Ardha Uttanasana. Placing hands down, stepping back into high plank and exhaling into Chaturanga Dandasana. Inhaling, sliding chests forward, opening our hearts. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Lifting hips and pressing chests back on the exhale. Adho Mukha Svanasana. Bending knees, looking forward to our hands, and inhaling, floating feet forward, back flat. Ardha Uttanasana. Exhaling, folding again into Uttanasana. Sweeping arms up, inhaling and looking to our fingers. Urdhva Hastasana. Pressing palms together, exhaling and lowering them to our hearts.

Arriving at Samastitihi. Equal standing.

And that’s exactly how it felt. Nine breaths putting us all on solid, level ground. Nine breaths linking us all together. Nine breaths and I knew this: I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Breathing. Moving. Here. Now. Opening up to my present, and whatever it has to offer.

(Photo credit: lululemon athletica)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Yogini in the Making

Three months ago, when I broke up with my boyfriend of six-and-a-half years, I braced myself for the anger and grief that I knew would follow. It washes over me, the way powerful emotion so often does, in waves that swell, crash and then recede. But under all of that painful emotion, there has been a glimmer of hope that I haven’t felt in a while.

I’d spent the last three years of our relationship denying my own desires for more attention and commitment, and putting goals on hold, imagining they’d be easier to achieve with a spouse by my side. I wished for a committed, reciprocal relationship with marriage and babies on the horizon. It wasn’t happening, though. And so finally, when the pain of waiting on The Ex became greater than the hope of some imagined future together, I decided to move on.

In my new-found freedom, not just from the relationship, but from the limits I’d put on myself while waiting on him, I decided to do something I’ve been considering for a couple of years now. I started doing some research, and without thinking too long about it, I filled out an application for a popular 200-hour yoga teacher training program that would fit into my schedule, and sent in my deposit.

The second guessing and self-doubt started almost immediately, but I held strong and the excitement for something new and life-changing quickly took over. I’ll be in training classes one weekend a month and will take at least three yoga classes a week throughout the eight months the training takes place. As the first training weekend approaches, my excitement is growing. I believe this experience is going to be powerful. My body will change, of course, as I immerse myself into regular, dedicated yoga practice. But I’m thinking beyond my body.

I’m feeling inspired in my writing after just a single class with the training instructor, and I expect that inspiration will only grow as I turn inward in my practice. I look forward to learning meditation techniques that will help me center and focus myself. My interest in the philosophy behind yoga is increasing, and I can’t wait to dig into the book list—fifteen texts, including everything from The Bhagavad Gita to an anatomy reference book to a guide to macrobiotic cooking—and start learning and exploring new ideas.

The intended end-result of this teacher training program is to earn a certificate that allows me to teach yoga to others. But I have a feeling I’m going to get more out of the next several months than I could even begin to imagine right now. For once, I’m not concerned about the unknowing. I’m happy to be taking a step forward, wherever that step may take me.

This piece was cross-posted at, where I'll be journaling about my experience as I learn to teach yoga (and become a more dedicated yoga student in the process).

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