Saturday, September 14, 2013

Om Sweet Om

February 2013. It was a very hectic Friday at work just like the days and weeks before. I was taking an afternoon walk during my break to shake off the stress when I remembered a friend's suggestion to try yoga. I've always been interested in it but I was always coming up with a thousand excuses to put off actually going to a yoga class: I'm not flexible, it's expensive, there's no yoga studio nearby, I'd rather play Starcraft, etc. But then I was getting fed up of the monotony of my daily routine that I was quite ready to jump into something new. After some quick Googling on my phone, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there's a new studio that's just opened near my office (Bliss Yoga). Incidentally the place was just a few steps from where I was taking a walk at that time so I immediately decided to drop by. I was even more delighted to find that they were offering free classes that week as a promo to attract new people in the area. It's as if the stars conspire that day to finally get my ass to a yoga class.

I remember how difficult it was walking into the class for the first time - especially since I was alone, no friends to secretly giggle at each other with. It was Sunday morning. Seeing these fresh, lithe, beautiful creatures in really nice yoga outfits got me all the more intimidated, out of place, and feeling awkward. I was already tense and my mind was racing before the class even started.

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

The teacher came in and after a short introduction we were asked to stand up and do the yoga poses. This is it. Not knowing the names of the poses I just tried to manage what I could to mimic what the people around me were doing . The teacher kept telling us to focus on what I mistakenly heard as the "vagina breath" or something, which really didn't matter as I could only manage to huff and puff all along. Why is this making me feel so stressed? Isn't it supposed to do the opposite? It was almost an hour and a half of painful exertion, awkwardness, and feelings of stupidity. I kept glancing at the clock on my cellphone anticipating the end of the class, but time, like a mocking devil, was running painfully, teasingly slow.

And then, after what seemed like eternity, the class was finally coming to a close and we were asked to lie down. Just lie down, and close our eyes. Like a corpse. Shavasana - that's what the pose is called. It was the first Sanskrit asana name that I learned. I was simply anticipating to rest my limbs, until the teacher said the words: "let go" - and that was when the magic happened.

Let go. And I realized how tired I was of being so conscious of myself. How tired I was from trying to look good to others and trying to fit in. How tired I was from over-thinking and how I hate my brain for coming up with those irrational thoughts of anxiety, fear, and envy. It was not merely the poses I'm really grappling with, it was me. It was a trick. The poses were just tools. The problem was my mind more than my tight hamstrings. I was finally getting the idea of what it was all about. Coming into this realization brought a little smile in my face as I lay there splayed like a drunken Buddha. I finally let go. And the breath that followed was no longer a strained attempt to catch my breath, but a breath of relief, accomplishment, and gentle, calming bliss.

It was love at first sigh.



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