Today is the day. My first EVER yoga class. But as I head up the hill towards Semperviva the ‘self-doubt serenade’ begins; should I take a later class? This top is too tight. Am I fit enough? My hair looks awful. How old is my yoga mat?!
I still wasn’t sure how I was going to like being all bendy and stretchy in front of a bunch of other people. I already had doubts. We always encourage clients to try more than one class before making a decision about yoga and here I was judging it all before I’d even entered the studio. I round the corner and walk through the front doors determined to just let go and embrace it all.
I spot Cameron. It’s his Hatha class I’m taking. Maybe I’ll just check in with him, casually let him know I’m here to do yoga. I wander over like a little lamb to a Shepherd.
‘Hi Cameron, I’m Elisa. I work here as YA’.
This conversation is completely redundant. He knows who I am but I’m nervous and just feel the need reintroduce myself.
‘I’m taking your class today and it’s my first one. I’ve been practicing for about ten years by myself so feel free to correct my postures. Oh, and if I burst into tears at some point during class you’ll know why’. (I actually said that).
He looks at me and quietly says ‘You’ll be fine’. The words hang in the air. ‘You’ll be fine’. I feel better.
I choose a spot in the studio at the front of the class. I do this for two reasons; the first, so Cameron can keep an eye on me and the second, so I don’t have to look at other bendy stretchy people!
We begin the class with a brief meditation. It’s nothing complicated. I think most people when they hear the word ‘meditation’ imagine some elaborate ceremonial scene of some kind; incense, long robes and prayer beads. Meditation can be those things or it can be as simple as finding a comfortable position, becoming aware of your breathing, and relaxing your mind and body into the present moment. If you’ve ever taken a walk and become lost in the colour of the leaves or the sound of the ocean you’ve done meditation. I used to do it while I was waxing my vintage car (hint, hint, to any doubtful male readers).
Meditation winds down, we start to move through the poses and I start to feel more and more comfortable. I find myself noticing how much my body has changed and how different it feels in certain positions. Some of these observations are really rewarding. Others, not so much…
As I look down in one particular posture I see a fold beginning to bulge over the top of my waist band. Where did that come from?! I start to laugh. Self awareness and personal growth at the same time! Still flat on my back I glance around fearing all eyes will be on me. Guess what. Everyone else seemed to be experiencing their own self awareness and personal growth too. I turn my attention back to my own practice. Just focus on the breath, I tell myself, and I move through the pose. I also remind myself that, unlike athletics which are results driven, yoga is practice driven. It’s the process that counts in yoga, not the prize.
I carry on, stay focused on my breath, and then a funny thing happens. As we move into a different pose I feel tears begin to well in my eyes. I’m not crying because I feel pain I’m crying because I’m grateful to be feeling. Does that make any sense? I understand that I’m here, in this class, not because I wanted to discover all my flaws but because I wanted to discover what I was made of.
As the class comes to a close and we move out of Savasana, (or that time when you get to lay spread eagle on the floor and nap), all kinds of things are happening, surprising things. I was concerned I was going to feel frustrated in my first class and I have at times, but I’ve also felt free and incredibly grateful mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Why? Because I realize I just gave myself the opportunity to be human… in a very bendy stretchy kind of way.
Elisa joined the Semperviva team as a YA at the Kits Beach location this past July. She had been working in the film and television industry here in Vancouver as a casting associate and more recently as a television script writer before deciding it was time for something new. Elisa first looked to yoga a decade ago after searching for something to compliment her athletic training and found it to be a surprising touchstone while dealing with the serious illness of a family member. She believes yoga and meditation are simple ways to find answers to life’s complicated questions.