My favorite pose in yoga is shavasana, also called, “corpse pose.” At the end of a yoga practice, you lay on your back, legs apart, arms wide, palms skyward and breathe with a normal rhythm. It’s a nap. Shavasana is my favorite pose because I’m really good at it but also because it is the best reward after 55 minutes of stretching, breathing, and mindfulness. Yoga is the only kind of purposeful exercise that I don’t actively dislike. I like it for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are shavasana and child’s pose.
I thought everyone who tried yoga would like yoga, at least a little bit. I was also under the impression that anyone could come to like yoga if they went to the right studio, had the right instructor, found their pose. Actually, there are plenty of people who simply don’t like yoga, and probably never will. It’s just not for them. Don’t feel guilty or un-chic if you don’t like yoga. Go forth in your life knowing that we in the yoga community wish you well. You don’t need to like or do yoga, no matter how many people tell you, “but if you try it again you’ll love it!” or “work on your breathing, it’s so helpful!” It’s okay. You, do you.
Yoga helps remind me of the importance underlying the slang phrase, “you do you.” In my practices at Mat Happy, the instructors constantly remind us to listen to our bodies. With serene, but firm, voices they tell us that each practice is our practice, not to push our bodies, but to work with them. They don’t care or judge me if I skip the vinyasa and go into child’s pose, as long as I’m getting what I need out of my practice. I’ve learned to breathe. That’s why I continue to grow my practice: it’s a judgement-free space where I’m learning to be calm, to connect with the strength in my body, and not judge the people around me.
Occasionally, when the room is filled with fellow yogis of all shapes, sizes and colors, I’m overwhelmed with the genuine power of our presence. Usually, the room is mostly women. I love this. When breathing into my warrior – arms raised steadily, front knee bent directly over my ankle toward my outside toe – my gaze should be over my front fingertips. Instead, I sometimes look around the room and see a woman who is 70 years old and a girl who is twelve. I see my friend and the women around her; I see myself in all of them. We’re all here, together, moving through the same motions, breathing the same breath. It’s peaceful, but it’s powerful.
Yoga has brought a subtle but important shift to my mentality and to my physicality. I feel stronger, I am stronger. After a practice I am lifted, confident. I can calm myself rather than getting anxious, upset or angry. Whether it’s yoga, running, hiking, singing, Netflix or eating cheeseburgers, I hope everyone has or can find the calm and confidence that my burgeoning yoga practice has brought me.
“May the love and light in me, honor the love and light in you. Namaste.”