I started practicing yoga for no other reason than to drag my ass out of bed in the morning. I had recently gotten a job where I could work from home, which is AMAZING, but knowing how I like to sleep in, I saw danger on the horizon. So I bought a two-week trial to a yoga studio near my place (One Down Dog), and paid in advance so I’d feel bad if I didn’t go. I knew it would get me up and moving, but I definitely wasn’t expecting any sort of spiritual awakening just from doing poses on a mat. At least I’ll get some stretching in, I thought.
Somehow though, I missed a pretty important aspect of yoga. It’s fucking HARD!! The first week, not only was I was sore all the time, but also I felt like the entire right side of my body had tightened around my hip. I was in the class with all these super fit chicks doing crazy poses where they were just casually twisting and bending their amazing bodies into perfectly balanced shapes, and I could do maybe 10% of what they were doing. I was sweating like a fucking pig, huffing and puffing through the whole class, and constantly trying not to fart. But even though I was suffering, I was still too stubborn not to get my money’s worth, so I decided to stick it out for Week Two.
Week Two started out… pretty much the exact same! The instructor would say things like “breathe in whatever you need for your practice… and breathe out whatever’s no longer serving you,” and I was like “Beyotch, I’m just trying to breathe!” No sooner had I reached the pose they were showing me, than they were on to the next one, and I was struggling to catch up. This was the opposite of “Zen.” I was stressed out and ready to quit.
And then one day, I went from Crescent Lunge into Warrior 1, and suddenly I felt an incredible sense of peace. For the first time, I felt like I was breathing into my whole body, and I was perfectly balanced, if only for a few moments. From that point on, I began to realize what the “practice” of yoga is really about. Yes it’s physical and good exercise, but it’s much more about coming to terms with yourself on a daily basis. You see what you’re able to do on a given day, you appreciate it, and you acknowledge your limitations. In the beginning your limitations seem overwhelming, but through daily practice, you improve. And what’s that if not a metaphor for all the struggles we face over our lifetimes?
The best thing about yoga is when you’re in a pose, and you successfully tune out all the noise, thoughts, and worries, and just exist for a few seconds as a human on earth. That’s the Zen moment. And it’s fucking profound. You’re suddenly, simultaneously aware and unaware of yourself and your body. You feel part of the whole thing. Even the idea of death isn’t as terrifying. So… if you’ve never tried it, or you’ve hung it up once or twice before, I urge you as a fellow human being to give yoga another shot.