I have lived in New England for 46 years, and on this day in August 2014, I dove into a lake for the first time.
Before our scheduled first meeting I was extremely hesitant. “Would this seem to last forever? Would I be bored stiff? Should I just back out?” I remember the moment: standing, waiting in front of the glass doors, trying to peek through and get a hint as to what I could expect. Maybe I could spot someone – just a glimpse. “Go in!” my friend shoved me out of my dreamlike state. Only then did I notice the line of women forming behind us. Waiting to get in? “Weird.” I thought, and in I was pushed. I was about to take my first yoga class since maybe 1975. (when I sat cross-legged on a thick shag rug and stared at Lilias on PBS.)
It was not love at first sight. Sanskrit? Never heard it before. Completely uncomfortable in my own skin, I watched women around me move gracefully through poses. Grace was never my strong suit anyway. At the end of the hour, my breathing confused me and my friend was sound asleep next to me on her mat, snoring. “I’m done.” I thought.
So I admit it. I used yoga. I used it only when I needed it. You know- to get the nice hamstring stretches after the cardio high that only relentless pounding of the pavement and chronic plantar fasciitis could give me. How could I ever feel as great as I did after my runs? – all sweaty and gross and in pain and great at the same time.
Then I took Her yoga class. I don’t remember a word she said, but I will never forget the way I felt listening to her. Her class brought me to a place where I found myself mindfully placing my body into poses that were more way more challenging than they were relaxing. I was sore after class, and I became stronger. She gave me permission to let go of my thoughts for an hour. Permission to just move, breath, and feel. I began to realize what my body did for me every single day, and what it was capable of doing.
Then came the discovery of what I think of as the “oasis.” A yoga studio nestled between two of the busiest street in my town. It was here that my practice began to deepen, and I learned how much more I could physically challenge myself – yes even cardio – in a yoga class. I began to lose my need for the high impact workouts; those workouts spent thinking about all the things I had to figure out or do in the days ahead. I could stand here, on this rectangular piece of pretty thin rubber, and do everything I needed – physically and mentally. Moving through poses in the steamy heated room, I learned to be patient with myself, knowing I would definitely wobble and fall over. (gracefully, of course) Another thing? I never knew that yoga music could be so cool. The playlists that the teachers at Milton Yoga had were unlike any other yoga class I had ever been to. I remember it: dark room, surrounded by sweaty bodies in corpse pose, completely exhausted. The coolest song was playing. I lay in stillness, and I knew it. I was in love.
That, my friend, is how we found each other- Yoga and I.