It was a regular hot yoga class (if those terms can go together)--90 minutes, high temperatures, high humidity, challenging poses. Several months of obsessive yoga website reading--I mean, research--have been entertaining and very helpful. I have read extensively about:
* Poses (several that will aid digestion; treat low back pain; help with insomnia; ease anxiety, align the chakras, and just about everything else);
* Appropriate attire for the practice of asana (whereupon I read of any number of controversies and opinions regarding tank tops, T-shirts, leotards headbands, shorts--and of course, the much-discussed yoga pants)
* Yoga etiquette (what kind of mat; how much space to take up; what to do about smells--the kind we buy, and the kind we create--when to stow electronic devices; and so on)
* Festivals and retreats (so very many...and in every conceivable location. The most challenging thing about knowing I'm not going to go is that each one holds the promise, real or complicit, that attending could change everything about my life experience for the better. This is the promise of yoga: one practice can create profound effects for the physical and spiritual bodies. As a licensed massage therapist, I understand how these things can be true--but I also understand that the benefits of a practice such as ours are not easily articulated...and are often wildly overstated.)
After all of this reading, and attending a few classes (supplemented by classes from websites and from the Fitness Channel), I am still a yoga beginner. That may be the case for a very long time--there is quite a bit to learn.
Today was significant because the instructor made our class phenomenal. While all of the instructors at the studio I attend (periodically, okay?) are competent, experienced professionals, this one was exceptionally attentive, and funny. (I don't know yet whether this is just a rumor--but based on my reading, Bikram yoga instructors are not generally known for spreading warm, fuzzy feelings.) She offered gentle corrections--multiple times, when needed--she kept a close watch on everyone in our class; and she made it clear that achieving the poses is only a part of the process...and that the process gets easier with time.
I was thoroughly enchanted. This was the magical experience that I have looked forward to ever since I started thinking about yoga. I felt thoroughly visible as I stood on my mat today. I felt that this instructor looked at me in my plus-sized body, and did not see a problem...but she saw me, with all of my flexibilities, unusual foibles, and odd sense of humor (yes, it helped that she laughed at my jokes).
It may have been entirely coincidental, but I found myself able to do more, and to perform better, in this class than ever before. I was grateful to feel entirely welcome, and filled with possibilities--like an envelope of stars.
The magic of kindness...I got some.
(When you get some...pass it on.)
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