I’m lying on my mat in savasana waiting for class to commence. I can hear the hurried sounds of people scrambling to get a good spot in the studio, and have to remember to come back to my breath before I start fussing over the day’s events in my mind. I shouldn’t have said that to a colleague. I spent too much time on social media today. What am I going to eat for dinner? Hell, what am I going to wear tomorrow? Breath. This is why I come to yoga. To leave my neurotic thoughts, my anxieties and all my inhibitions at the door. I focus on my breathing, its simple. I listen to the instructor as we glide slowly and serenely from posture to posture, inhaling and exhaling and I leave it all behind for an hour. I’m free.
Unfortunately, being a low budget kind of gal has me unavailable to commit to a studio for longer than an introductory month. This has actually worked out to my benefit because it allows me to study different types of practices, and as a person who has a fear of committing to a place, makes it easier for me to move. My first introduction was in my third year of college and there was a hot-yoga (bikram) studio widely gaining popularity half due to the glamourous success of lulu lemon and partly because Western girls love everything that’s a fad. Moksha yoga was perfect in a lot of ways. Though it was hot, it never felt stuffy. The back wall of the studio was made completely of translucent windows, and even though the odd peeping Tom would sometimes try and jump up and peek through the tiny bit of access to the hot room I was never distracted. The classes were slow and suitable for beginners; in fact, you were never really pushed that far. Shoes came off as soon as you entered the building and talking was not permitted once you went inside that door. Late comers were disallowed into class five minutes prior. I went back to Moksha for another intro month when I moved back home for the summer.
Moksha yoga however, is an expensive fad. Once the intro months passed, I simply couldn’t afford to pay over fifteen hundred dollars a year. I ended my brief love affair, spending time at various low key studios which allowed me to try various styles of hatha, ashtanga and vinyasa. I realized the full potential of a yoga class that doesn’t leave your eyes burning due to dripping sweat, and finally opted to do it from home once I had found I could lead myself in a good 45 minutes routine.
To my benefit, this also rightly coincided with my plans to travel, so being able to take my practice into my own hands came in handy. Because my first taste was Thailand and Indonesia I was able to experience the power of meditation first hand. It was there I realized that though I considered myself an able yogi I actually had not mastered the power of my mind. I was always thinking in my classes, about things that had no relevance to the present task at hand. I was wasting time worrying about yesterday and anxiously anticipating tomorrow. I could get my leg over my head, but I couldn’t get my thoughts out of my mind for more than a minute. I was doing it wrong, and not experiencing the full benefits that I have now grown to become addicted of.
I finally found my Zen in a small yoga studio located in the beautiful town of Whistler, British Columbia. I hadn’t been keeping up with it during the winter season, as we lived in rather small accommodations and I wanted to spend all my free time out of the apartment, and on the slopes. To be honest, the accommodation was really killing me. I shared a bunk-bed with a close friend in tight corners and though we made the move together, had acquired something totally different out of the experience and began to drift apart. I was stressed because I felt like we didn’t understand each other, and I was angry because I felt as though she didn’t care. We stopped communicating and instead started getting really annoyed with one another and soon it consumed me. I was this surge of negative emotion, and I wore it on my back like an ugly jacket. I cared deeply for my friend, but knew that I couldn’t keep feeling the weight of trying to mend something so terribly broken. Our friendship ended in a final cry for appeal on my part and an emotionless stare back further confirming that moving on was the right thing to do.
So, it was summertime, we had moved to a beautiful place and the stuffiness seemed like a distant memory but I was still feeling down about the loss, and finally decided I needed to free my mind. Loka Yoga in Whistler really kick-started my path to enlightenment. I remember sitting in my first class and was told to think about something that was bothering me and focus on letting go of all the harrowing thoughts that accompanied. It was a no brainer. The class then began to chant. This was so foreign to me, and at first I kind of felt like I was in a cult and giggled under my breath. We then listened to ancient spiritual readings, while the instructor reminded us that the uniform aim of the Jivamutki practice was liberation. As we went through the soothing postures I noticed that my feelings towards my friend had somehow turned from negative to positive. I realized that the only thing I had to do was be compassionate. I realized that I wasn’t sorry for the loss of my friend, we had just changed and things were better this way. I was sorry for the way I handled it, and took the time to send a whole hearted apology. I never got the apology I was looking for in return, but instead a series of thanks for admitting that I was wrong. Instead of being frustrated by the ill-mannered response, I decided to move forward from it. I’ve learned at this age that there are some things just worth letting go of.
I fell in love with the Jivamutki practice and soon even began chanting at the beginning of our sessions. The communal feeling of singing amongst individuals in search for their own answers brought my joy where it once brought me embarrassment. I always left feeling grounded, open-minded and without the weight of regret. I’m still not entirely sure if it was the power of the specific practice, or the power of my newly controllable mind that allowed me this liberation, but I was all too happy to move on in search for more once I left Whistler.
These days I have been intro-month hopping my way through London, back to where I started in Bikram Yoga. I have still yet to master it (the heat makes me uneasy) but something keeps on dragging me back. Stay tuned for my hate/love relationship with hot yoga…
I’d like to know, what is your favourite type of yoga?