At first, I fit yoga into my life. Now, I fit my life into yoga.
For a while, my practice shifted from the early mornings to the evenings. It had been quite strange and a big adjustment, as I am a morning person and not so much an evening one.
After a full day’s work, it would sometimes be difficult to drag myself to the studio. And, in the mornings, I would have to pack up oodles of odds and ends to prepare for the day: My yoga mat which I aired out each night; my yoga bag with my gear; the bobby pins and tie-back for my hair that I left each night next to the shower, and sneakers and a tee-shirt to don after practice as each night I would change from my work clothes upon arrival at the studio.
Before leaving the house each morning, I would hoist my mat bag over my shoulder, overlap it with my yoga bag of clothes, followed by my briefcase and then, of course, my purse.
I am a creature of habit as my son likes to point out. I find a restaurant I love, and it is the only place I want to go. I am at a job where lots of people come and go, but I tease everyone that I will be the last one standing. I am the only one of my siblings that stayed local and, in fact, I raised my children right down the street from where I grew up.
Needless to say, I fussed through my change of schedule and the fact that I had to transport all of my gear each day. The studio was different. There was no music. There was a different smell. The parking was not as easy. But then, after a time, I got more used to sleeping a little later. And, after work, I found it a welcome relief to change out of my heels and into my bare feet and sit in the heat of the studio after sitting at my desk all day.
After a while, I grew to like the windows that surrounded the practice room, and the incense they burned did not smell so bad after all.
I guess for someone who resists adapting to new things, I did a pretty good job. Just becoming a yogi was a big change in itself and, if I think about it, that transformation should prove to me that I can adapt myself to other changes, too. It just takes me a little while to settle into something new as I have a tendency to look backward more than forward.
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. These are not the words of my yoga instructor; instead, they are the famous words of the Danish philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard.
So, even though for a while my yoga was different, it did not stop me from moving my practice forward. And, as yoga often does, it was teaching me another lesson of doing the same in my life.
I would think about this when we moved through a pose called Extended Side Angle. It is a pose that moves the body forward but has the eyes looking back.
Extended Side Angle starts in Warrior II, in a lunge with hips open to the side and arms extending out parallel to the mat. Slowly, the torso tilts forward, and the front elbow lands on the front thigh. The back arm rises to the heavens and the heart tilts open towards the sky. Then, further instructions are given:
Reach forward for something new. Reach for the beauty and for the freedom of something you want.
With this instruction, I would reach my top arm over my ear and extend it to the front of the room, taking my torso with it while my heart twisted ever more open.
I find this pose empowering and freeing. The chin tucks, and the eyes find their stare point toward the back of the room. In this pose, I learn that reaching forward literally comes hand in hand with looking back and opening the heart.
Maybe if Kierkegaard was around today, he would look back to find he carried the foresight of a yogi.
A collection of Anne's posts can be found at http://YogaSpeak.blogspot.com