Monday, May 2, 2011

OMg Yoga

I joked once with my yoga teacher that I was going to create a bumper sticker: Yoga Saved Me. But that’s what it feels like at the end of each class. As I get up from savasana, “dead man’s pose”, a 10-15 minute ultra relaxation period after an hour of stretching, I feel I have been raised from the dead.
I know, it sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But I can’t help it--the transformation I undergo during my yoga class is almost unbelievable.
You would think that something as powerful as this would take a lot of work to achieve, right? Yet it is such an easy process---the hardest part is getting there faithfully, the rest comes easy.
How do I begin to share with you this life altering process that leaves me with an emotional, physical and spiritual make over every time I experience it?
Well let’s start with something as simple as the clothes. In yoga class you wear the most comfortable clothing, which basically amounts to stretch pants and a tee shirt or stretchy tank. The pants come in all cuts and sizes and even have tummy control. You can find this clothing in a variety of places, if you want to splurge for a favorite pair, you can head to the sporting goods store, and if you want a simple pair, you can head to the cheapest department store. I guarantee you will find yourself wanting to live in these clothes. You are not even required to wear shoes, so there is no worry about the right footwear.
And then there is the class itself. Held within the walls of what my friend, the owner, and I nicknamed the womb, the studio I go to is located downstairs in a very peaceful building. As you enter the studio you are greeted at the door by a 4 foot smiling Buddha bidding you a welcome.
Zaanti Yoga Studio

Class starts with a gentle awakening, which means you sit and get relaxed. You tune into your body while clearing your mind with the gentle prompts of the teacher’s voice which I find mesmerizing. Then, you go into a variety of poses, in a calm, rhythmic way. Basically you awaken every part of your body by moving and balancing in different positions than you normally would, when going about your day—though you will find that after just a few yoga classes you will be moving differently out of class as well.

The teachers are some of the most grounded people I have ever met. They choreograph each class based seemingly on intuition, always right on with the mood and the pace of the students. In yoga we are taught to move with each breathe, to fill our lungs wholly, and release our breathe fully. The teachers guide us in breathing to the movements along the way, making the postition, or asana,  flow seamlessly. This is pranayama.
One of the best parts about yoga is, you move at your own pace and do only what feels right; the teacher offers lots of space for accommodations and modifications of poses. I always feel bad when people think they have to be some sort of expert to take a class. This is so not the case, what each person gets, and how each person experiences their yoga class will be different. I know, it sounds impossible that everyone in the same class may be doing things differently, but they are. It’s great.
The biggest benefit for doing yoga is I have learned to accept my body and work with it as it is, rather than forcing it into being something it is not. My yoga teacher talks about how in Hindu cultures the asymmetry between the left side of one’s body and the right side is accepted and honored. This was eye opening to me as both sides of my body are quite different and I was forever trying to push myself into a perfect posture of sameness that is just not possible within my framework. Yet, I am very good at balancing postures when both sides of my body work together to achieve equilibrium. I think embracing my own differences is the key to my health and well-being.

Recently, I have begun sampling different syles of classes; each time I come away with just what I needed. I leave every class on cloud nine and when I take day classes, I inevitably have a great day, when I start it with yoga. Imagine, something as simple as relaxing, stretching and breathing for an hour and a half can change your whole attitude for hours. What else can do this as well and is good for you! ;)

Yoga can save you.