Sunday, April 15, 2012

Accidental Yoga

Thursday evening I accidentally took a Power Yoga class.

Now understand: I have always emphatically said I am NOT a "power yoga person." I had a pretty clear idea of power yoga people: tattoed, lithe, ultra-serious, and out of their minds.

I arrived at the yoga studio early, pleased that I had made it to the 5:30 "intuitive flow" class with my favorite teacher, Amy. (I hadn't felt well all day, and it would have been easy enough to stay home.) And there was Amy at the front desk, checking people in, with her calm smile, her effusive greeting. I signed in, and bustled into the studio.....

....where a blast of hot air greeted me. Where there was that weird harmonium thing sitting at the front of the room. Where all the mats were lined up in an unfamiliar pattern.

I went back out front. "Amy, am I in the right class?"
"Power yoga?" she answered cheerfully.
"No, I wanted to be in your class."
"I don't teach until 7:15."

At which point my brain got all twisted up. My brain wanted to argue with Amy, to tell her she had it wrong, that she had to teach at 5:30 because, after all, I was here for her 5:30 class.  My brain clicked back through the schedule and realized I was a few days off: that Amy's 5:30 class is always on Tuesday, not Thursday. But my brain knew that my desire for a 5:30 class on Thursday had blocked my knowledge that no 5:30 class existed.

And that's when fear kicked in. That's when the brain went into heavy whining mode: I can't do power yoga. It's too hot. I'll throw up. I'll make a fool of myself. I don't want to do power yoga. Don't make me do power yoga!

Amy looked up from the computer. "Don't worry," she said, "You can totally do it." Then she flashed me that smile. Who can argue with that smile?

So I slunk back into the studio, set my mat in the far back corner, and waited for my torture to begin. I looked around, and sure there were some lithe tattooed people, but there were also a lot of people who looked just like me.

The teacher, Paul, started us slowly. He read Rumi to us. Something about love and wine and letting go (very Rumi). He had a beautiful voice. I began to trust a little, and then a little more. He said Yoga, no matter what style, is always about meeting yourself where you are. Hello self, I said, here we are.

And yes, there we were, together, my cranky self and I, flowing through one sun salutation then another, the heat rising through every part of me, sweat beading then flowing down my back; there we were breathing deep and bowing into child's pose for a quick rest before joining the others, then flowing easily back into camel pose and back into child.

At the end he played that harmonium and I understand harmony. I heard my own voice resonating there with the others—my self and I glowing: with sweat yes, but also with the joy that comes from doing something you never thought you could do. The accidental, the unexpected, the parting of your own stolid ways. 

When I went out to the lobby to put on my shoes, I told Amy I loved it. And with her same calm smile she said, "There must have been some reason you got confused this week."

So, here's to confusion. Here's to the accidental. Here's to finding out what happens when the universe changes your plans.



  1. Well fantastic :) And how strange that you missed your plan by two days and didn't notice until you were already well along that new path.

  2. Maybe I really should give power yoga a try... but I always had the same vision as you!

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one who arrives for yoga cranky :)
    Power yoga still sounds intimidating to me for some reason though...

  4. I'm a beginner in yoga. My schedule is always changing for work so sometimes I have to go to Power classes. As long as you respect where you are with your yoga and your teacher does as well. It's all good! As I am learning and working on, your mind will try to talk you out of it. Just ignore it or just say, thanks mind, but no thanks and do what you can. :) You write very well by the way. I enjoyed reading this.

    1. Thank you Writer Yogi! Yes, yoga just keeps getting more and more interesting as I go along...


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