I recently went to 4 yoga classes in one week. Partly because I needed the zen. Mainly because my 10-class pass was due to expire and I don’t like wastage.
Yoga feels like an indulgence. It is time wholly dedicated to consciousness – exactly what I need when I find that I have fallen into a sea of unconscious daily tasks. It forces me (in a collaborative, non-aggressive way, of course) to choose awareness over automatic responses, mindful breathing over mindless scrolling, observation over obsession.
In those 60/75/90 minutes (depending on how deep the sea has been), I only very occasionally wonder what time it is or how much longer I need to channel my inner yogi and work my outer thighs. Mostly I relish the luxury of uninterrupted time to myself, shared with 30 other sweaty, contorting bods in a heated room.
In class #1, I admit to thinking about the ultimate question: Is it time for the Shavasana? This is the yoga pose that signals the end of the class, when you lie on your back, close your eyes and do nothing except breathe. It is the victory pose, the ‘Yes, I made it!’ pose. It is the prize at the peak of the mountain you have just conquered. Your body melts into the floor, along with all effort (and probably a fair bit of sweat). It is the only time when it is acceptable to be in active wear and be completely inactive. You surrender to the silence. You think about how delicious your body feels after all that stretching and flowing. You think about how delicious your dinner will taste now that you’ve earned it.
Towards the end of class #2, just as the instructor utters those beautiful words And now…coming into Shavasana, I come into a coughing fit so intense that I have to leave the room. I feel cheated. I worked hard in that class. My perspiration had been dripping on those mats together with the best of them. My dog had been facing downward just like everybody else’s. My core had been in overdrive from that very first Child’s pose. And there they all are, Shavasana-ing away in bliss while I splutter in the hallway. I remind myself that I am here to gain inner peace and to learn how to let go.
So for class #3 I make sure I have a big bottle of water to quash any bouts of coughing, and a Fisherman’s Friend lozenge tucked into the previously useless iPod pocket of my yoga pants. The Shavasana is sweet and I stay a little longer to make up for the injustice of the previous class.
Class #4 is Yin Yoga. Ingredients = mat, giant bolster, cushions, dark room, hypnotic music. A recipe for relaxation if ever there was one. This class is like a self-executed massage. But with clothes on. And in public. (Perhaps not the best analogy but I’ll stick with it.) We hold each pose for 5 minutes, which is a long time if your hips are tight and your Pigeon is wonky. But in those 5 minutes there is a subtle but distinct switch from effort to ease. Go as far as you think you can go, then push a little harder because sometimes the only blocker is your mind. And then when the blocker is unquestionably not your mind because your body is screaming out in agony, ease off for goodness’ sake.
And this is the common thread that ran through my week: yoga, like life, is about finding the balance between effort and ease. When you stop trying to attain perfection and instead recognise that you are here, in this moment, at this level. Acceptance is liberating. This is as far as you take it today, and it makes no difference how long you stare at Bendy Wendy or Side Crow Simon next to you. The only comparison to make is with the former you. On or off the yoga mat.
“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” – Edwin Louis Cole
Those 4 classes were a lifeboat that pulled me out of my sea of unconsciousness. I’ll be back on that mat before you can say Chaturanga!
©2017 Seetha Dodd