“You guys look too serious. We’re going to do something fun,” my teacher says halfway through our yoga class. She turns up the volume on her iPod and has each one of us place a blanket on the floor before us. We drop to our knees, sweep the blanket forward, pull back, and return to standing. We do this until the song ends.
I don’t know if there’s a name for this, but I don’t care. I love that my teacher smiles as much as I do during our practice.
The first time I ever tried yoga was in the living room of my friend’s house when I was 14. His mother taught us, with a special focus on meditation. I loved it.
I practiced meditation and yoga since then, in my own bastardized form. Yoga is utterly spiritual for me, no question. Yet as I grew older, I kept going to yoga studios with the thought, “Hey, I’ve liked yoga for a really long time now. I should go take a class!”
With each class, I felt something missing. To put it simply, it was yoga for fitness, not yoga for the spirit. But I wasn’t looking to get fit, I was looking to feel connected, in tune, balanced.
About three months ago – around the same time I started running – I tried yet another studio. This time was different. My current teacher was subbing for another instructor at the studio, but I felt such a strong connection to her. It’s as if everything worked together that Sunday in July to make sure I met her, and found her approach to teaching.
After laying out out my mat, a small brown pouch was placed in my hands. I was to pull out a Word of the Week, which would act like a mantra for my practice over the next seven days. Communication. We said our names. We smiled as she asked if there was anything each of us wanted to focus on for this class. We closed our eyes and began to breathe.
She laughed, and smiled, and talked throughout our class. She made yoga fun and spiritual. I felt at home in her class, in that studio.
You come back to the mat when you need to.
Fast forward to four months, two trips, and an ashram visit (my teacher’s trip, not mine) later, and my latest homework assignment from our class is to write my reaction to the random sutra I picked up from her clippings of The Yoga Sutras.
When the effort is continued in accordance with yogic principles consistently and for a long time, with earnestness, application, attention, and devotion, the yogic foundation is firmly established.
I smile. Practice, sincere practice, brings you wisdom and understanding.
I recently fell out of my practice of yoga + writing every morning in an effort to be more efficient with my running schedule. If I’ve learned anything within the past few weeks, I am not an evening writer. Dawn is when my mind is clearest, and my words come most freely.
Receiving this sutra was like a little confirmation. It’s time to get back to work and practice.
Or, as my teacher would say, I tested the divine and got the answer I didn’t even know I was looking for.