July 26, 2011

How I fell in love with Yoga.

First there was Power Stretch.  I stumbled onto yoga when I joined my studio.  They had some yoga classes but they looked way too hard for me.  I could not touch my toes.  There was nothing, absolutely nothing, flexible about me.  The studio began to offer a summer  series class called Power Stretch, a 30 minute class designed to promote flexibility and also, as a kind of baby step towards yoga.  I liked it.  It was hard and stressful at first but the payoffs were quick.  I used to say 'Well, I can't really do any of the stretches so all improvement is a milestone.'

Then there was Core Flow.  I began going to yoga classes at the studio, they were designed around Vinyasa Flow, which means that the you would work quickly through the postures and poses in order to keep your heart rate relatively elevated.  They were an hour long and I began to go three or four times a week.  I was really progressing. 

Touch my toes?  You bet?  Hold a crow pose?  Most days, yes.  Inversions?  Not yet, but someday.

I loved it and my schedule changed a bit so in addition to going to classes at my studio I started to go to a Sunday evening class at Journeys in Yoga.  This was what I call my introduction to 'real yoga.'  These classes had a real focus on controlling and manipulating, yet always respecting, the body.  90 minutes, pose to pose to pose, ending with inversions and partner yoga.  Partner yoga is when two people do poses together, sometimes holding someone else over your head.  Intense, but amazing.

All of this love was fostered by a great teacher.  Jessa met me at every important point in my yoga journey.  She worked with, instead of against, my body.  She worked within my limitations but still pushed me to new places.  Jess is a magnetic person, drawing energy and people towards her at all times.  Eventually she graduated, moved to NYC, and is teaching Yoga at Equinox Fitness, an elite studio in Manhattan. 

I have found the rest of the yoga community to be just as inviting and supportive.  In general this group of people is not exclusionary, they do not look at my suspiciously as some other in fitness classes sometimes do, they only push me to expect the best from myself, knowing that somedays the best is more or less than other days.

Now I take classes with a young woman named Emily.  Emily, too, is about to move away so I'm sure that my yoga is about to transition as I find a new teacher. Emily is caring, gentle, and in all ways, charming.

I love yoga.  I do.  I love that it always challenges me.  There are always news poses to try or even just trying to get better at ones you're been doing for years.  I love that while it always changes, it is also unchanging and timeless.  It shows me in the most concrete way, other than the scale or my clothes, how my body is changing.  That as my muscles strenghthen and get longer, as my joints open, poses that were once not even approachable become do-able.

Yoga is one of the sincerest ways I show my body love.

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