These were the words of the yoga instructor that opened the class on a snowy Saturday afternoon.
It was the end of October, and the snow was unexpected. For some reason, snow and, especially, rain, make me want to step outside and go somewhere. This snow was mixed with a bit of rain which prompted my venture out of the house. I signed up for a class in Georgetown, put on my yoga clothes, added a layer of jeans and long sleeves and topped it off with a down jacket and rain boots. My first stop was Urban Outfitters on M Street for a pair of fingerless gloves.
Breathe. Use your breath to be present. Not just in your practice but in your life.
More words as we set up in Down Dog with feet and hands pressed to the mat, legs and back straight, making an inverted V with our bottoms in the air.
For several years after college, Georgetown was my neighborhood. I shopped there. I worked there. I lived there. These days, if I feel the need to get away, to step out of the usual, that is where I go. Driving into Georgetown and parking is like leaving one life and arriving in another. I park on a side street and walk through the neighborhoods down to M Street. There, I can shop the stores, grab a cup of coffee, watch the people and pick up a yoga class.
This is costly yoga, though. One time, it cost a pair of jeans from a nearby boutique; another time, three sweaters. Many times, it can cost sushi or sashimi. But, today, it costs only a pair of fingerless gloves.
A crowd of people were departing the narrow entryway of the yoga studio as I arrived with a group of others. The people leaving looked replenished and pleased. A part of me was a bit jealous that they had already arrived at that energized feeling following a yoga class, that endorphin rush that produces a simultaneous sense of elation and serenity. It showed on their faces. I stepped aside to make room for their exits and then entered the studio, coming in from the cold.
I unpeeled my layers, stowing my jacket, gloves and boots in one cubby, and peeling off my jeans and shirt and placing them in another.
Breathe. Let go.
The yoga was hot with the room heated upwards of 95 degrees. It was crowded with one person inches from the next. I feel a change just stepping into the studio, having just walked through the cold, wet snow bundled in three layers to now breathing in the heat in my next to nothing yoga clothes. The class starts by chanting three Ohms which always feels a little funny to me. No one exactly sings out; it is just loud because of all the people.
This particular instructor counts a lot. We go through a series of poses, and he counts. Backwards. Five, four, three, two and one. We flow into another pose. And he counts, again. The class breathes and sweats, breathes and sweats. I can feel my mind and muscles loosen, and I get what he says about leaving the mind and arriving in the body. I look ahead at the windows, now all fogged up and sweating just like us.
Ninety minutes pass quickly. Replenished and pleased, the endorphins rush over me, producing that mix of serenity and elation. We finish by chanting three Ohms, which now does not feel funny at all. In fact, the class now sounds like a choir. Afterwards, I layer up and step back out into the cold.
The snow has stopped, the sky is almost dark. In the last hour and a half, I had left my mind and arrived in my body. I was ready to go home again.
A collection of Anne's posts can be found at http://yogaspeak.blogspot.com/