Thursday, June 4, 2009
Confessions of a Lapsed Yogini
I started taking yoga 10 years ago, when I was working for a completely insane woman and desperately needed the stress relief. My first yoga teacher was Donna, a muscular yet curvy blonde in her early 40s who had lived in an ashram in the 70s. She was self-assured and focused, yet had a calming effect on me. I loved the Sanskrit names for the poses, the candles she would light and have us focus our gaze on during meditation. Donna was a stickler for correct alignment, which annoyed me at first, but I eventually realized how important that was (and it drives me crazy now when teachers don’t care about proper alignment). I loved how I felt after the class.
I left that crazy boss and followed Donna to a yoga school close to my new job. I took classes there from several different teachers, but mostly from Donna and then Bodil, who had moved to the US from Norway in her teens, and was at the time in her late 50s or early 60s and still had a bit of an accent. Her class was not easy, not all about relaxation. But it was fantastic. She was direct, kind, down to earth, funny and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of yoga, not just the poses and the physical side of it. We chanted, we om’d, we sang. At this time I was going through fertility treatments and felt quite at war with my body. I started going to a yoga class two or sometimes even three times a week. For those 90 minutes, I accepted everything about myself. Who I was, what I looked like, what I couldn’t do. It was heaven. I always, always left class feeling like I not only had a good workout, but also better about myself.
I’ve taken classes at a couple of other studios and a gym or two. For me, it’s all about the teacher and the atmosphere. I don’t want a room with mirrors or a teacher who treats it like an exercise class. I like the candles, the chanting music, the scented eye bags we wore during savasana. I like stretching and holding a pose until I sweat and think I can’t hold it anymore – and especially how I feel when I come out of that pose. (Bodil used to say, “You know what’s the best part about yoga? When it’s over.”)
I think I’ve been to two or three classes since Lauren was born. The yoga school got a new owner and moved to a new building. Donna no longer teaches there (or anywhere that I can find her) and Bodil moved away. I have become lazy, and unwilling to not see my daughter for a 24-hour period in order to go to a class after work. I sometimes do poses at home, but it’s not the same as a class. I miss the physical aspects of it, but even more, what it did for me mentally and spiritually. It’s one of the many things I’d like to put back on my to-do list.