Yoga: the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Bird of Paradise

I’m going to take a bit of a break from my focus on the more intangible benefits of my yoga practice to ramble a bit about how much fun I had on my mat yesterday!

So to back up a bit, I’ve spent most of the summer getting about nine hours of sleep per night.  I didn’t realize how much this was contributing to my overall well-being until this past week or so.  Lately, I’ve taken on a sort of ‘carpe diem’ attitude in a subconscious effort to enjoy these last three weeks of summer (I go back to school exactly three weeks from today!  Ahh!).  I have not been giving my body the care it deserves and it is taking a serious effect.  This week, for the first time all summer, I found myself shying away from my mat.  I did not want to practice yoga.

But, for whatever reason – maybe out of habit – I went anyway.  On Thursdays, I take class with one of my favorite yoga teachers of all time.  Her classes are challenging and creative.  Her aura is joyful and caring and exudes pure love for yoga.  She creates a beautiful environment for yoga.  I could suck it up for that, couldn’t I?

Well, when I got to the studio, not only were the skies threatening tornadoes, but my beloved teacher was no where to be seen.  Maybe she’s running late, I thought.

There was a substitute.

Never in my life have I cared so much about the external conditions of my yoga practice.  I actually contemplated rolling up my mat and going home.  Looking back, I actually feel guilty for the energy I was giving off to my fellow practitioners.  It was that bad.

And then came the breath.  As I began to flow through the poses being instructed, I felt my tiredness falling out of my body with my sweat (this was pretty surprising, as I was seriously contemplating remaining in child’s pose for the entire hour and fifteen minutes).  I felt strong and energetic again.

And this substitute teacher I had shunned just moments before began leading me through flows that were pure fun!  Yogis were smiling and laughing.  My anger melted into true happiness.  I was jumping around on my mat like a kid with an ice cream cone!  I tried new things, I fell, I laughed, and then I did it all again!  This new teacher was quickly becoming one of my new favorites!  And then when this renewed vigor she had instilled in me nurtured my body into ‘Bird of Paradise’ after months of trying to no avail, the deal was sealed.  I was so grateful to this woman for getting me out of the horrible funk I had spent the day in.  So grateful that she brought me back to the practice I love and the state of being I strive for.  I am still on a yoga-high from more than eighteen hours ago!  And it feels pretty great.

Last night also brought about an important revelation.  Sometimes, when you least want your yoga practice is the time when you need it the most.  I truly believe that it is not possible to feel bad after a yoga class.  Without fail, every time I step onto my mat, I leave it feeling better than just moments before.  That is why I think yoga is such an amazing practice.  Because it transforms you into a better human being.  I am so happy that my university’s physical education policy brought me to a yoga mat three years ago and that I am one of the lucky few who has truly latched onto the yogic lifestyle.  It is truly a gift.


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