Friday, June 4, 2010

What surprised you?

What surprised you when you started practicing yoga? What continues to surprise you?

It's been almost a year since I've been back to Bikram yoga after a ten-year hiatus. I've never written a "why I came to yoga/what it did for me" post. Some of that is just too personal to post here, although I've alluded to most of it in the 44 posts I've written since establishing this blog. But maybe framing this discussion as "what surprised me" about practicing yoga is a way to approach it. 

My first surprise in coming back to Bikram yoga was a strong and sudden conviction to do so. I was training for a half-marathon, and I'd started getting migraines more frequently. I'd also stagnated in progressing in my training for the run. I knew something had to change. I'd noticed a Bikram studio had opened up near my house, and there was this little bug in the back of my mind consistently chirping, "Go back to yoga! Do the yoga!" It had this whole... cheesy... meant to be feel about it.

What also surprised me was that first class back felt like home. I'd been there before, even though I was an 18-year-old spring chicken the last time I'd practiced. In class, the teachers often say that the yoga has a cumulative effect, and I felt that. I remembered the postures, I remembered the fear, and I remembered the dialogue (hearing "Knee is solid, concrete, lamp-post!" was like hearing an old mantra or prayer).

I knew after the first class that this was going to be a major part of my life. In practicing just twice a week, the migraines quickly went away, and I've only had one since. My tendons, muscles, and ligaments opened up like thousands of "flower petals blooming." My back pain from the scoliosis lessened considerably. My butt tightened up. My thyroid levels normalized.

Best, best, best of all is the surprise I won't into too much detail here. I don't struggle nearly so much throughout the day. It's like I was spending my life swimming back to shore, and suddenly I was handed a surfboard and could use that instead. It's still an ocean--I'm still going in the same direction--but I have this great tool at my disposal to help get me there.

And then, there's the blogging community itself! Talk about unexpected. I remember Googling "Bikram yoga blogs" and being so pleased to find The Dancing J's blog, and later the lovely likes of Hannah Just Breathe, Back to the Mat, and Svadhaya 101. (I wish I could list 'em all.) The support I feel in exchanging comments, tweets, and FB posts is beyond encouraging. And as a result of the blog, I've made at least one deep friendship that will likely last a long, long time. Now that, I didn't expect! Look what can happen when you open your heart to it.

There's so much to be grateful for! Namaste! (and thanks for putting up with such a sentimental post ;-)


bikramyogachick said...

It's such a lovley journey, isn't it? :)

catherine said...

Awww, I love the surfboard analogy. And I love the sentimental post. Going back to my first studio, after a year and a half away, felt like going home, too — and I'd only done the weeklong intro!