About 30 years ago, my teacher friends and I used to “feel the burn” to Jane Fonda’s LP in one of the classrooms at school on Monday afternoons. We were all young then, and way more flexible than I am now. One member of the group had been practicing yoga for a long time, and offered to teach the rest of us, so we added another after school afternoon to our schedules, and learned “the cobra” and “the salute to the sun” poses. Then winter holidays, meetings, classes, and life filled up our afternoons, and thus my yoga education ceased.
A year ago, my former spouse and I had the opportunity to take a weekly yoga class, and we jumped on it. Our instructor was a woman with a lilting accent from South Africa. She labeled all the poses as we learned them, and each class was spontaneous and unique. After an hour and a half that turned into two hour sessions, we were stretched and at peace with each other and the world for the only time during the week that we would be.
When I came east, I brought a video made by our teacher. The one and only time I followed the video, I cried so hard at the sound of her voice, I had to stop. It put me right back next to my former spouse, so I packaged it up, and sent it back for him to use. Then I joined the Y, and began “gentle yoga” classes. We meet 3 days a week, have a regular and predictable routine to follow, and our instructor moves us through the poses with no names, including some ballet, and extra balance poses.
At the end of the session, our relaxation, or shavasan, helps us to empty our minds and move into some peaceful meditation. My first experiences with this a year ago frequently left me with tears streaming. I felt the companionship of the strangers around me, the loss of my former lifestyle, and the helplessness of a suspended existence. Today in class my meditation included a reflection on the changes I have experienced in my entire being this past year, and felt amazed and humbled by my progress. May your year end as mine is ending…with positive changes, hope, and thanksgiving. Nameste.