When I started “The Zeg” I wanted to create a space that had a little bit of everything. A big portion of this site is devoted to travel and art but I also wanted to also encourage readers to try something they had never done before. And so I created a section called “Firsts” to highlight people who have stepped out of their box tried something new with the hope that it would encourage more people to do the same. And that includes me. So here is my “First”:
“Yoga takes you into the present moment. The only place where life exists”
I recently joined this Health Club in downtown Denver and what attracted me was not only that it is a very upscale facility but they also offer over 100 different classes from Abs, TRX, Spinning and Yoga. I didn’t know much about Yoga but I knew it involved complex poses and meditation. Coming off a few stressful weeks, I thought that yoga may be a good way to relieve some stress. I found a class on the schedule at a good time and decided to go: Vinyasa with Billy @4: 00 pm (90 minutes)
- Mistake #1: I showed up on time. I underestimated the number of die-hard students of Billy, so after he introduced himself I was placed in the middle, near the front where there was an empty space. I immediately was nervous and self-conscious about being up front and also being seen making a fool out of myself -but I soldiered on.
- Mistake #2: I didn’t realize that it was hot yoga so wearing a thick cotton t-shirt was a fashion faux pas. I could have taken my shirt off but who needs to see that shit?
In a calming voice, Billy instructs us to start in “Child’s Pose” (resting position) “Begin on your hands and knees…center your breath, and begin to let your thoughts slow down….spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching…bow forward, draping your torso between your thighs.” Easy Peezy I got this I thought to myself. Then Billy reminded us that this is a resting position and we can come here anytime we need to take a break and rejoin the class. (Initial thought- I am going to be in “Childs Pose” many many times.)
Soothing music begins to play and the show (that is me) is about to start…
Let’s move into Downward Dog… “Bring your body into a shape of an “A”.. lengthen your spine..press down equally through your heels and your hands…align your ears with your upper arms…gaze between your legs…were the instructions. I lasted one minute in this position my arms were tired from working out the day before. I remember thinking “I must be doing this wrong if this is the resting position because a brotha is tired”. I dropped to my knees a few times, sweat dripping in front of me on my mat. I looked around to see was anyone else was struggling? No, sadly just me. I’m still committed! Right foot to right hand.. left hand back heart facing the sun… left hand down to the mat… Left foot to left hand… right hand back heart facing the sun…right hand down to the mat, the class moved in sync. Both feet to both hands… (in frog position)… slowly stand up, leaning back arms stretched out. Billy our instructor says: “Offer this practice up to something bigger than yourself” and that’s the moment I got out of my own head, I didn’t care who saw me fall (which I did twice) or do a yoga pose incorrectly (which I did multiple times) I was finally being present in the moment. With the sounds of Beach House and Empire of the Sun and other chill music in the background, we flowed through a progression of increasingly challenging poses.. warriors pose…Trikonasana… Bakasana (Crow)… Chaturanga… Utkatasana we all were moving together and it was a beautiful thing.
Every muscle in my body was engaged it was one of the most intense and spiritual experiences of my life.
Drenched in sweat, arms weak I made it to the end. Laying flat on my back palms to the sky Shavasana was the last pose. A time for reflection. A wave of calmness fell over me. I was in a space of gratitude for my life and for this yoga practice. I was purified, the shit I was angry about before I walked in the studio didn’t seem to matter anymore. It was as if all that nonsense mixed with sweat exuded through my pores and was now just a puddle of liquid on my mat. I had found a peace within that I didn’t know existed. I went back a few days later to the next class, then started going to multiple classes a week which resulted in a shift in my life and the way I live it.
I don’t let those little things get to me anymore! I have tried to avoid substandard things, taken a step back from negative people and fair-weather friends. Those things no longer have space in my life.
So, this is not a blog post to get everyone on a yoga mat. It may not be for everyone. But it’s about me trying something new with low expectations and coming out of it with tools that have helped make a difference in my life.
“What’s stopping you from trying something new?
A special shout-out to my great yoga instructor Billy Potocnik for the lessons and the patience. Billy has his own Yoga practice and leads Yoga retreats around the world. If you would like to go on a Yoga retreat check him out @ Billy Yoga