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I fell off the yoga wagon.
Haven’t been to a class in over two weeks. My life is shifting right now, causing my schedule to bumble around. First, my spouse and I are preparing to move to Virginia. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from where we are now, but we still need to pack up and load every dish, book, and piece of furniture. I’ve been donating stuff and shredding files like crazy. I started playing tennis again, and I’m adding a writing class as well as a writing workshop to my week. Not to mention my freelancing is picking up, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen due to Clean Eating, and my husband and I are dealing with the emotional turmoil of fertility issues as we try to start a family. The yoga studio is a good 30-minute drive from my house. No wonder I haven’t been making it over there lately.
I remember when I was a law student I was particularly stressed out one semester. At the time I was debating adopting a puppy. “Try to minimize the stress in your life,” my parents cautioned. I adopted the puppy anyway, but I thought it was good advice. Even though I’m excited about the events in my life (moving, taking a class, more work assignments), change takes its toll. What can I do to minimize the stress?
I let go of a column that I enjoyed writing but that didn’t pay. I asked my husband to take over some of the dinner duties (grilled salmon, yum!). My parents are going to help with the move. Also, there is a yoga studio that is closer to my current place. I’ll try it out next time. I feel calmer already.
How many times have I been in Dandasana (Staff Pose) during a yoga class and listened to the teacher say, Open your chest? Same with Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and many, many other poses.
My friend and fellow blogger Michelle of Full Soul Ahead was in a guided meditation when she heard the teacher say, “We often hunch our shoulders as a way to protect our hearts.” Michelle blogged about the symbolic meaning of that tendency over here: Open Heart. A beautiful post and well worth checking out.
Not that long ago I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and came across the passage where a recovering addict had prayed continuously that God would open his heart. When the man was rushed to the hospital for surgery, he remembered thinking, God, I didn’t mean literally! (The story goes something like that – I don’t have the book with me to look it up).
Anyway. Open my heart, God. What a great prayer. I realized today that it’s so much easier to “open my heart” when things are going well. When life is good, my work is being published, my husband and I are laughing together, and the sun is shining, it’s so easy to take a big breath and stand up tall and let my chest expand and be graceful and appreciative and joyful towards others and towards the world.
But when dark times come…oh, those are the moments where I tend to get frustrated or angry and want to quit. But I think maybe it’s during those times when the heart needs to open up and grow most of all.
My car crunches over the gravel as I pull into the parking lot of the yoga studio. Climbing up the rickety stairs of the wood building, I’m filled with hope.
This is the ninth yoga instructor I’ve tried since moving to DC. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find a teacher that feels like the right fit. In part, I’m grieving the loss of my instructor from Los Angeles whom I adored. And I admit I don’t mind the teachers I’ve practiced with here, but I find yoga easier to maintain when I feel a strong authentic connection.
A few months ago I tried a class where the teacher did seem like a great fit. But when I returned, she was no longer there. I scoured the web searching for her to pop up in another studio around town. I only had a first name to go off of, but I think I might have found her and that’s why I’m here today.
I sign in at the desk and walk into the studio. The teacher is asking the class to get two blocks, a blanket, and a strap. Yep, that’s her. I can tell by the sound of her voice.
She walks by me on her way to close the door of the studio, but she pauses before reaching her destination. She watches me as I pull back my hair back into a loose ponytail.
“Hi. I’m Jenny. I’m a drop-in,” I say.
“I know you,” she says.
I sigh in relief. She remembers me.
“I took a restorative yoga class you taught in another studio a few months ago. I’ve been looking for you ever since. You’re hard to find,” I explain.
“Yes,” she nods, remembering the class. “It’s taken me awhile to get going and figure out where to set up shop.”
Well no wonder I couldn’t find her. She’s a new teacher. Later, I discover that she had a health scare which caused her to re-evaluate her entire career as a molecular biologist. Once she recovered, she decided to become a yoga teacher. Love that (I had a similar experience three years ago and that’s when I began writing).
We open by chanting three Oms. Then she tells us to be sure not to miss class three weeks from now. She’ll be teaching it outside where we will all face the trees so we can experience a “yoga foliage festival.” Oh yeah, she’s my kind of yogi.