I rediscovered yoga as I was transitioning out of ballet earlier this year. There's a wonderful studio near my home that I've discovered and after my first class, I've been hooked. There's a wonderful community feel at iGita, a variety of yoga, spin, pilates, TRX, and barre classes, and great membership deals which keep me coming back all the time. I've been able to adopt the routine of going to hot yoga each evening, sometimes late at night right before bed; a new routine to replace the one of ballet I was leaving behind.
I used to be so impatient taking yoga. A lot of it is rather uncomfortable. It brings you to poses and stretches that are challenging on the body, and then you have to hold it just past that point of wanting to release it. Previously, I was wary of this for two reasons. For one, dancing contrarily is a lot more fast paced and fluid. And secondly, I had major distrust in all other forms of exercise for fear that I would somehow get injured. In the case of yoga, I was scared of over-stretching or honestly, just entirely opposed to working with legs that weren't turned out.
This time around, I've learned something new. The power of breathing (admittedly something I could have used more of in ballet) is integral to the practice of yoga. The second I started actually breathing in my yoga classes, and get this, actually breathing through the hard poses, it became easier (?!) I swear, put yourself in a challenging pose or stretch, and just take a long breath. This breath takes you over the hurdle of the discomfort. Your body just accepts the challenge and adjusts to it. It's transformative.
Patience is perhaps the greatest partner to yoga, The instructor will tell you to be patient with your body today, for it is not the same as it was yesterday or will be tomorrow. Some days you're in the condition to work harder and other days you need to accept that some poses will not work. I think this is something unique and truly beautiful to yoga. Having come from a sport in which perfection was the ultimate goal, in which I would endure mental abuse, yoga has been refreshingly kind to my spirit and self.
I prefer hot yoga because I love to sweat. I love seeing the beads of sweat on my forearms. I love sliding on my mat because I'm so sweaty. I am so gross! But I particularly love the flushed feeling of exhaustion I get once the class is done. That is satisfaction.
But perhaps the greatest reward that comes with yoga is that of the final resting pose in each class, shavasana. They say this is the hardest pose, also known as the corpse pose, because it insists that you lay completely still. Completely. Sometimes I just want to itch my nose - it's so hard! You must lie on your back, palms open to the sky, and tune out everything in your mind and simply focus on your breath. Do you know how hard it is not to use this time to think about nonsense like breakfast the next day?? It's really hard.
This is my greatest challenge in yoga, to have a completely clear mind. But once I achieve it, I know it will also be worth the challenge.