Life is Not A Vacuum
I've been practicing yoga since my senior year of college. It started with stress, and tension in my shoulders, and a suggestion to check out a website, a teacher, a class. My school didn't offer yoga, so I turned to the internet, streaming classes to my dorm room, listening to the teacher, guiding my body through the moves. I felt good afterwards, and I slept better and my shoulders were less tense. That was good enough for me.
As I've walked through the years since then, I have continued practicing yoga, all at home, in private, until this week. This week, I joined a gym, mostly for yoga practices. I know how I am about exercise. I need motivation. I need people to say: let's go to yoga. I need a physical class so that I can't just tell myself I'll make it happen the next day.
A good friend and I ventured to class on Tuesday night. Neither of us had been before. We brought our mats, our expectations. I was a little nervous.
As we began, I realized that I recognized the poses. I understood what the teacher wanted me to do with my body. I began to move in response. Our teacher walked around the room from time to time, observing, making sure we weren't hurting ourselves. At one point, she walked by while I was in downward facing dog. "That's beautiful," she said.
This is what class is for. I come and present my practice in community. We all bend and try and learn how to do so without tweaking our necks. We learn that our bad habits are bad habits, we make adjustments and go deeper.
I think that I walked into class thinking that all these things were the purpose of class. I was operating under fear, wondering if I had been doing things right all these years, if I had started off on the wrong foot.
My teacher did not tell me I was wrong, or even gently correct me (though I hope that will come later, if I'm taking risks). She told me that what I was doing was good.
If I had never gone to class, I would have continued living my life in a vacuum. I would have wondered, from time to time, if I was doing things right. I would not have felt secure.
About halfway through class, the teacher told us about some partner yoga she had been practicing. With her help, I was able to get into a deep and wonderful backbend that I never would have been able to accomplish on my own. Like many gifts, this was very unexpected.
I will not always do things right in yoga (or anything else). I will not always be encouraged by what I am doing, I may be encouraged to do better. If I don't go to class, I won't know the difference.
For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. Mark 4:22 (NASB)