Posted by: patti | October 2, 2009

Fresh Yoga

So I missed that yoga class I was heading to last night.  I left later than I had intended, the traffic was miserable, and I got lost.  And because I was lost and late and, therefore, flustered, I stalled twice.

On my way to the studio, I was talking to a friend on the phone, whining that even when I have the best of intentions, I still can’t get my act together.  “I was really looking forward to this class, it’s the owner teaching, and now I’ve missed it, I’m too late.  So much for my fresh start.”

“What do you mean, late?  It’s 5:42 and the class is 5:45,” says he.  He who has never been to a yoga class.

“No no no no no.  No!  I’ve never been to this studio before, so not being there by, like, 5:20, is too late!  There are forms to fill out and, and, payment to be made, and no!  You just don’t go into a class late.  You just don’t.”

Truth is, people go into yoga classes late all the time.  What I couldn’t say was, I don’t go into class late.  I don’t go into a movie late, I don’t try to nip into a store just at or just after closing–I don’t do late.  But for yoga, in particular, I need to be on time, which means early, and when it’s a new place, I need to be really early because I don’t want to be “that person” who barges in and disrupts the beginning of a class, and I need to get the lay of the land.  I need to know where to put my shoes and where I can get changed and if I can get a blanket or a block and I can’t ask those questions or find those things if class has started and oms are being chanted.

So.  I get there at 5:50.  I park the car (my Ladybug was right at home with all the Priuses and Subarus) and leave my mat in the car, figuring I’d salvage the trip as a fact-finding mission.  Two very cheerful girls beam at me from the front desk.  I stammer about schedules and first-time discounts, and one says brightly, “Why don’t you go on in to the class?  It only just started.”

“Didn’t it start ten minutes ago?”

“Well, more like five.”

I step back and look in the window on the door.  Sun Salutations.  I turn back to the cheerful girls. “No, they’re too far along already.”

“It’s really okay, you can go in.”

“No, I don’t, I don’t–do that.  Go in late.  I don’t.”  I try to say this as un-crazy as possible, and in such a way so they understand I’m not judging others who would go in late.  I’m not sure I succeed.

We talk about the schedule and the new location about to open downtown (which will be walking distance from my apartment–hooray), and she tells me there’s a class at 6:45, which isn’t so long to wait, really.  So I leave for a bit, because I’ve gotten the lay of the land and said land is small, and I’m too self-conscious to sit and chat with the cheerful girls.  So I take Ladybug around the neighborhood, tracing the route I should have taken, learning the streets, practicing gas-clutch-gas.

(Details I may have to explain at some point:  I am dividing my time between New Haven and Inwood right now.  And I bought I car I don’t know how to drive.)

The studio is Fresh Yoga in New Haven.  I’d been aiming for a class with the founder/owner/director, and I was expecting it to be hard.  For one thing, as I mentioned in my last post, I haven’t been to a group class in about four months.  My private practice is like my writing:  once I stop, once I lose my momentum, I can’t get started again.  I’m working on that.

I was also anticipating a hard class because it was labeled “Forrest 2.”  I had never heard of  Forrest Yoga, and what I read on the interwebnets made me think it would be pretty intense.  So I was all geared up for something difficult and something new, which meant I was pretty geared up.

But I missed that class, because I wouldn’t go in ten minutes late.  So I had to shift gears (and, yes, you should expect that phrase a lot in the coming months) (and I hope you don’t tire easily of driving metaphors) yet again to mentally prepare for Nancy‘s 6:45 class, which was listed as “Level 1-2” and described by the cheerful ones as “definitely not Vinyasa.”

Forrest Yoga, not Vinyasa yoga–it almost didn’t matter.  On the one hand, I knew I needed yoga, any yoga.  On the other hand, I feel thick and stiff and out of practice and was prepared to fail at even the most basic poses.  On the other hand, the studio and the people were bright and welcoming and it seemed like it wouldn’t matter if I was a walking yogafail.  On the other hand, I’ve been struggling with everything lately.  On the other hand–as a yoga teacher, I really should know how many hands I have by now.

But nothing I was worried about came to pass.  I was able to concentrate, I was able to be present, really present, in the class.  I was able to do all of the poses, basic and non-basic, fairly easily.  My mind stayed where it was supposed to:  on my mat.

Nancy was efficient and expert in her instruction, and that was certainly a factor.  But I’m still trying to understand what it was that allowed me to forget the outside world, to forget my usual anxiety, to let go of the pressures and the uncertainty and the pain I carried in with me.   I am struggling to come up with another time that I was able to so completely lose myself in myself and just be.

I was not watching the other yogis and comparing myself to them.  I was not analyzing every aspect of every movement I made, scanning my body for errors.  I was not worrying if I could handle what came next.

There are only a handful of people (specifically, the nine women who spent 200 hours with me a year ago January) who will fully appreciate this next part.  When it came time for headstand, I did not inwardly groan, or panic, or retreat into child’s pose.  We had the option of moving our mats to the wall, but I stayed where I was.  I placed the crown of my head on my mat, set my shoulders, and lifted my hips into the short down-dog.  And I hung out there, feeling the angles of my elbows and the lift of my shoulders, feeling strength in my back and tension in my thighs.  I slowly squeezed one knee up.  And then the other, slowly, slowly.  As I squeezed my knees together, my lower back did what it was supposed to, stretched lean and long, and my hips came into a perfect line with my shoulders.  I found my egg.

I hung out like that, knees bent, in my egg shape, for many breaths, content to be exactly where I was.  And I smiled.



  1. Thanks for sharing your smile. And congrats on finding your egg. Namaste.

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