Yoga Class Practice

At the beginning of the month, I posted about how I am doing at the Living Yoga Yogathon. It recently struck me that my goal, which I am documenting daily on Insta, might seem a bit strange. Why not just do yoga every day for the month of April, you might ask. Why a class every single day and why does it not matter if I’m teaching it or taking it?

My answer is both simple and complicated.

Yoga classes were my gateway into the practice. They were how I first got to know the poses and they were when I was first told to breathe deep. In more ways than one this year has been like learning to walk again. We were lucky when we were little and walking for the first time. We did not know what it was like to walk once and we do not know the pain of not being able to do what we were so used to doing. From leaving the complicated and frenetic nest of New York to breaking my leg and quite literally not being able to walk, I know the pain that makes for great breakthroughs and the necessity to return to the beginner’s mind.

Here are some of the many reasons why I made yoga classes in particular my goal for this month:

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1. Listening. I will never forget one afternoon class I took with Ali Cramer, a dear teacher of mine, where she shared a dharma talk on the power of just surrendering to listening. At the ends of long days, we are all exhausted and sometimes, we need to just have someone else tell us what the f*ck to do. A yoga class, versus a home practice, can provide us with that kind of decision-making surrender. When this month feels like a series of long days (in a good way!), yoga classes become just what I need to have someone else make the decisions for me when I spend my whole day making them at work.

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2. Well-Rounded. There is a lot of power in a complete practice. Complete practices, for me, move through all seven chakras, include a robust playlist that matches the mood of the class and provide the surrender of savasana. I have yet to see a class that is not a complete practice because classes set sacred boundaries around the practice in ways that only very premeditated and prepared home practices do.

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3. Any and Everywhere. I want to prove this month that you don’t need a spare two hours to take a yoga class. You don’t even need to go to a yoga studio. There are a plethora of resources online and in podcast form that can help us take our practices to the class level. Yoga is accessible and it’s basically my life-long mission to prove that in whatever ways I can.

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4. Newness. Taking a yoga class a day has enabled me to return to the yoga studio life of Portland, which is, to say the least, positively fantastic. So far in this yoga challenge, I’ve taken classes at Yoga Union, Unfold and The Grinning Yogi. What I am about to say blows my mind: they are all in walking distance of my house. Coming out of college where I basically started an organization to provide walking distance yoga to students, this is such a huge relief for me. It aids in feeling like Portland is and can be hOMe.

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5. Because I Can! Every time I do a warrior pose or an arm balance, I feel like I could cry out of gratitude. I had a gigantic injury this year and while returning to the practice isn’t easy, it is a tremendous relief. Sometimes, I stand in tadasana while others are doing standing balances in the class. I am not used to child’s pose – what used to be my resting pose – being painful, which it still is (oh, hay, flexion). But it feels like a gift to be able to show up, to have working legs that can take me to a class, to be able to see my imbalances on the mat and work on balancing them…through yoga. I am hyper-aware that yoga is not all about the asana and my feeling of can-do is only metaphorically expressed through my asana practice. More than anything, crazy arm balance or not, it’s about coming hOMe to my body, in all its trauma, ups and downs and abilities.

written from my breathtakingly gorgeous porch this sunday morning  – sunshine, trees and all!

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