I’ve been practicing yoga for a long time – several years, off and on. When I say “yoga” here, I am referring to the movements you’ve probably come to know whether you’ve taken a yoga class or not.
Last month, I signed up with a yoga studio for 30 days to see how I liked the different classes they offered. My 30 days is up on Tuesday, and in just this short time, I’ve learned so much about the practice of yoga, and how much I needed it without even realizing it.
Many years ago, I did yoga poses at home from a VHS tape. Eventually, I got a few DVDs, and once I started taking regular boxing classes, I joined a yoga studio where I strictly took hot yoga classes.
It was there I really started to enjoy some of the mental clarity that comes with a yoga practice. But at the time, I wasn’t really looking for it.
This entire year has been a struggle for me, mentally, between my grief, and working a digital job, I get cloudy and feeling like I can never stop my brain from buzzing.
But between my meditation practice (thank you, Calm app), and taking yoga classes at the studio, I’ve discovered what a true delight it is to take even just 45 minutes or an hour all to yourself.
One whole hour just to breathe and let the outside world fall away.
Typically, when people think of yoga, they think of the poses. But it’s also about breathing, meditation, and a general system of well-being. It’s about awareness, and being present.
During these 30 days, I’ve taken traditional flow classes and barre – both of which I have tried before. But I tried two new classes: Yin and Restorative.
Yin yoga is slow-paced and the poses are held for up to five minutes each to work deeper into the muscles and fascia. I have LOVED taking these classes, and have also learned so much about my body and mind during them.
Restorative yoga is similar to yin in that you hold the poses for up to five minutes, but they are gentler poses meant to help you center your mind and body. This is really nice to take at the end of the day!
Since I already have a membership at a dance studio, I wasn’t really looking for cardio classes or even strength courses – I know I needed something for my mind.
In the first few classes I took, I kept finding myself on a mat next to the same woman – Sue. I don’t know much about Sue – which is one thing I enjoy about the studio: everyone pretty much keeps to themselves – she always seems to be on a mission to find COMPLETE relaxation.
She wears a thick headband that she uses to cover her eyes when our eye pillow just won’t work (when we are in a seated position, for example). She’s the first to cover up with one of the heavy blankets, and I believe Sue has mastered the ability to silently sleep mid-class.
It’s a trait I envy.
I haven’t seen Sue lately, and although we’ve only exchanged a few words over the course of the month, I’ve found myself searching for her in class. She is a great reminder that no matter what’s happening outside of class, this small bit of time is whatever we need it to be.
At the start of each class, we are invited to set an intention. I used to set my intention to just try and do my poses the best. But lately, I’ve vowed to focus on my breath, focus on being present.
With each practice comes progress, and I’m so thankful for the mental clarity I get from even trying. The studio has become a bit of a sanctuary for me, and I’ve got a feeling I’ll be hanging around for awhile.