Sunday, June 10, 2007
Yoga Oasis - My Yoga Experience
I started doing yoga in 2001 and I didn't like it. I tried. In fact, I did it at three different places. It was a drag. I forced myself to go. I got some flexibility out of it but not much else.
Around six months ago a very stubborn friend dragged me to Yoga Oasis. At first I was like, "Everyone in Tucson does friggin' yoga. Been there, done that" and rolled my eyes. That said, within the first ten minutes of class I could feel my body, mind and soul thanking me for being there. It was the most relaxing and satisfying thing I could have done at a very high pressure moment in my life: exam time.
Now I like to go twice a week. I can walk in there pissed off, anxious or stressed out and emerge completely relaxed, with new perspective and positivity.
I take basics with Bruce Bowditch. I like Bruce because he's hilarious, and he somehow simultaneously challenges and nurtures. He takes the time to give very important, detailed instruction about how the pose is supposed to feel and be done, while giving variation options and watching out for potentially painful errors. The detail he puts into basics instruction has meant a world of difference to me. I finally realize that the poses are all truly active. I think that perhaps the most common misconception about yoga is that the poses are passive and boring. If you find that's the case for you, your pose is actually missing something.
I also like that Bruce gives more verbal instruction as opposed to visual, which allows me to go more deeply into my body/temple instead of watching/being distracted by what someone else is doing.
Yes, my body has responded to the practice by growing stronger, more flexible and increasing in balance and grace, but the physical cannot be separated from the mental or the spiritual. Not only does my mood always improve after yoga, but a few times I have truly tapped into a "spiritual state". I know this sounds really fruity and New Age, but I've had a few intense moments that deserve to be shared and honored.
Recently I experienced a really bright feeling, right at the start of shevasana, that was exactly like the feeling I had as a child when I was still able to fully accept the power of the mystical presence of God in me. It's a feeling I can't really explain any other way. I hadn't felt that way since I was probably six years old. The reason why I find this kind of remarkable is because I wasn't really looking to make yoga a spiritual experience. That said, I am completely grateful for what I've been given.
In an era where we are so pressed for time, into multitasking, and lost for religious/spiritual options that seem to truly "fit" with us, it's no wonder so many people are into yoga. Not only can it offer us exercise, flexibility, strength, balance, grace, relaxation and joy all at once - but it can also turn out to be a kind of "church" you walk into unexpectedly...