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I’ve been doing a lot of yoga lately. There’s a studio called Yoga District right down First Street just a few blocks from my house. It’s simple, spacious, unpretentious, affordable. There’s a place to leave your mat and the same folks come around again and again so that you get to know faces. People ride their bikes and walk to class. “Interns” from the community help clean the place and sign people in, in exchange for free classes. The whole ethos of the place manifests most clearly in the studio’s outreach arm, YogaActivist.org, which helps bring yoga into communities that might not otherwise experience it.
I love this place. It’s kept me grounded over the past few months, and I’m going to be sad to leave it.
I’ve heretofore been a little skeptical of yoga. Classes I’d taken in San Francisco left me feeling self conscious, like I didn’t fit in among the lululemons and raw foodists. A friend took me to a bikram class in Orange County where a wiry black haired Chinese goddess barked at a room of slick, dripping, bendy people as they twisted and pressed and squeezed every last toxin from deep inside out their pores. It was an experience, but not of calm.
The classes I’ve come to love at this place are athletic. I move and bend and sweat. It’s not easy, but it feels really really good, and by the end, my body feels at once relaxed and also tighter, my mind is open and I’m ready to take life in stride.
Just yesterday I did a headstand on my own for the first time since I was a kid. I’d tried a few times against the wall, or with a spot from a kind instructor, but yesterday I felt courageous and powerful so I nestled the crown of my head between my palms, walked my feet up towards my face till I was on my tippy tip toes, and then gave a slight -push- and bent my knees and then I was up.
Judge not… but sometimes I’m curious when I twist around in some funny pose and see the full room behind me. I’m curious whether people’s posture in yoga belies something deeper about them. The ones that get me most are slouchers, people who turn languidly and poke their arms in the air halfheartedly at the beginning of each sun salute. I wonder if these people would make good coworkers.
Or the overachievers (who, me?) who lunge much deeper than is necessary and push and strive and breathe too loud and glance at their neighbors (I try hard to resist). But the people I want to be friends with (and strive to be more like) are the people who are strong, but calm. Straight, but contained. They sometimes shake, they sometimes fall, but always with grace.
May 12, 2010 1 Comment