To be honest, I was very afraid to walk into the classroom and practice the yoga poses for beginners that the instructor had been pushing to us via email. I had wanted to take a course for some time but was afraid to be a beginner and admit that I knew nothing about the art of yoga. Friends who had taken this class had assured me that it would be easy to complete, and I wanted to trust them. However, it was more my mind than my body that I was worried about.
Mastering Sitting Asanas
I had seen the posters promoting this course in the break room at my job. I wanted to ask around to see who posted it, but I was still not trying to let anyone know that I had decided to take this plunge. They, after all, might keep checking in on me to see how it was going and force me to admit failure.
What attracted me the most was the asanas that were on the poster. Although I know that yoga is a mind and body pursuit, I just ached for my body to be able to stretch that way. I spend countless hours each day sitting at a desk without taking a break. By the time I go home, my body feels like it's a series of small pretzels.
I knew that just being able to do the sequence of sitting asanas would be good for me. Fortunately, this position was the first one the instructor showed us to start the class. I was slightly more limber than I thought. I twisted my body at the waist to both sides, bent over to stretch my arms and hands towards my feet and performed what the instructor call the third eye position, which resembled a backward push-up.
As the soft, meditative music played in the background, I started to notice I became less aware of the fact that I was doing yoga poses for beginners. Instead, my mind started wandering to all the things I thought I had suppressed for good. I had been thinking about a career change and those thoughts began to surface here.
My thoughts during the asanas were not like usual, where I might think of how much stress I was enduring on current work projects and feel my body tensing up all over again. Instead, I could literally see myself in the new position. I was happy, contributing to the team and all the muscles in my body were relaxed. I almost didn't want these poses to end.
Some Regression is Good
Our next pose sent me all the way back to my childhood. They're called Balasana in Sanskrit and "Child's Pose" in English, and it required us to kneel on the floor, touching our big toes together as we sit on our heels. Then, we had to lay our torsos down between our thighs, with our hands palm up on the floor alongside our torsos.
The instructor gave many more lessons on how to do this position the right way, but I was already in my head analyzing what the position might mean. As a child, I was in this position a lot, especially when I was bored, waiting on my parents for food or to travel or sleep. I was beginning to connect the meaning of all the Sanskrit names for yoga poses for beginners to other areas of my own life.
Once in the position, I could feel how heavy my shoulders felt tilted towards the floor. Who ever thinks about shoulders having any weight at all? In this position, with my weight shifted and responding to gravity in a seemingly opposite manner, I became aware of all the body parts I often take for granted. I started to understand that carrying tension can be a consuming thing that happens without you ever noticing.
Finding a Peaceful Release in Shavasana
By the time we got to one of our end poses, the Shavasana, made me fall even deeper into my own peacefulness. The instructor told us to lie on our backs with our legs spread only as wide as the yoga mat. We were to place our arms out with our palms up. If the sitting asanas were a way for me to meditate, this pose took all the remaining tension out of my body.
This time my focus was more on different parts of my body. Even when I thought I had completely relaxed, the Shavasana position exposed the other places in my body where I had not done so. I tend to hold tension both in my abdomen area and in my thighs and still had a tough time letting go after five minutes. Eventually, I got there.
The spiritual side of me started wondering about the fact that this is called a corpse pose. I mean, it is what a dead body does, lie on its back. However, who wants to practice that? On the other hand, I saw this as a way to move toward ultimate relaxation. On the other hand, did this pose suggest to me that death might be the only way to let go of all the tension? There was such an irony in trying to relax this way.
I was sure of one thing after we had worked through the yoga poses for beginners: I would be back. Many people do not think of yoga as a strenuous exercise, but I had to rethink that position. I could already feel the soreness from pulling off the sitting asanas before I showered and dressed.
On some levels, the art of yoga is about making your body talk to your mind consciously. The brain ensures that the subconscious communication happens without you. When you match the communication effort with an intent to relax and release, though, something magical happens in your body.
You begin to let go of all the things you think you need in order to have a full life. Thoughts that have seemed so foggy gain clarity. I am thankful that I did not write this off as another fad and took the risk to relax. It just might save me.