I’m sure that most of you exercise, in some way, shape, or form, you do it. You walk, you run, you cycle, you do whatever it is that floats your boat. I was a runner, I was a cyclist, I skied, water skied, rollerbladed, I played racquet sports, etc… I now do yoga. This may not be your form of exercise, but it is mine now.
My start on this one is an odd one. I went to my first class on a dare/challenge. A gal I was working with thought that I should go with her. I told her no… repeatedly ! for what felt like times infinity ! I finally gave her an ultimatum. “If I go, will you get off my back on this one ?” Yes was the answer. Fine, I went with the preconceived notion that it would be sitting with legs crossed and chanting ohms, maybe some funny scented candles, mood lighting, you get the picture. It was anything but. It was a Bikram class (on Apr 6, 2005). I had no warning on the heat or the strenuousness of this class. I sweated out buckets. I didn’t know I could or would sweat from all those places. After class, I swore never to go back. But 2 weeks later, there I was, back to figure out how did this preconceived notion be so hard. Second class resulted in the same sweaty mess (you can call it a Hot Mess if you like and that would be appropriate, but not in the normal “Hot Mess” kinda way). Again, I swore never to go back… 1 week later, I’m back at the class after continuing to think about it and never fully realizing why this was so damn hard. I think the appropriate line at this point is “hook, line and sinker” I was now hooked on this un-fucking-believably hard exercise. What happened ? I have no idea. Initially I thought I could gain some much needed flexibility, but then I found something else. 90 minutes in a hot room, 90 minutes listening to some dialogue, 90 minutes of intense focus… 90 minutes… 90 minutes where all I could do was concentrate on what was right in front of me, the mirror and me in it. 90 minutes that took me away from every other stress or thought in my world. At the end of class I realized, I wasn’t as stressed about work, I had clarity, I could refocus on what was important. This crazy Bikram class went from an exercise to something mental and/or spiritual that I couldn’t explain. Who the hell was this Bikram guy and why had I started to love an exercise I used to put down ? Many more classes happened… until that one fateful class (about 1.5 years after starting). The Studio owner, of which I love and respect, practiced beside me. She asked me, if I would honour her, in fact it was the exact opposite, I would be honoured to practice beside her. What made this class so memorable ? Not that Studio owner who is unbelievably pretty, but the fact that during the entire practice, I did not once hear her breathe. Her breath as calm as if you were sitting and having a coffee and reading the news paper. After class was over, she also made a comment to me about my shirt. See, I used to wear a shirt into class, and then at the mid point, I’d strip the shirt off. Her comment to me was this: “What’s with the shirt? Do you think any one cares what you look like ? The only one in the room that cares about your appearance is you ! So what… you don’t like looking at yourself ?” Woah ! There’s a tough question… Why is it that I don’t like looking at me ? I have a body pretty much like most others, it has imperfections, just like everyone else, am I judging others for their imperfections ? Certainly not ! So why the double-standard on myself ? Let me ask you, Do you do this to yourself ? Careful how you answer this one…
As the years progress on, and I continue to practice, not only at my home studio, but also at other studios around the world. I continue to come back to that one class, the class that changed not only my practice, but the way I look at me and the world. I come back to that calm breath, and it complete eases my mind.
I have learned a number of exceptionally valuable lessons from practicing yoga. I’ve become a much calmer person as I try not to let others steal my peace. I have made some friends with the instructors and they have inspired me to be a better person, of which I’m eternally grateful.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts, about a journey. Oddly enough, I’ve often said I’m not much into the journey but the end result. I find that I’m having to change my tune on this one… this is all about the journey, as I can not name my destination.
How about you ? Are you here for the destination, or the journey ? Maybe this is a bit of a rhetorical question, kind of like asking, who do you love more, your mother or your father? there is no right answer. What do you hope to accomplish along the way ? a friend asked me, “What do you want to have done before you’re 80 ?” Go ahead and ponder that one for a bit.