Yoga & I
It seems like yesterday that I started practicing yoga but it’s been a long journey from that first day, when from my incredibly hard beginners’ meditation practice, I decided it was time to move. Yes, time to move because sitting still for 25 minutes, twice daily, was a horror movie!
I had been trying meditation for months, and I felt I was not improving but going backwards. I could not stop the thoughts; I had been told they would come; it is not that I was not expecting them to come; I had been told to leave them aside each time this happened, and to go back repeating the mantra. It did not work, it was thoughts upon thoughts; the mantra didn’t even cross my mind! I’d go back starting the repetition of the mantra and then, all of a sudden I had lost it again.
Trying to get what I was supposed to achieve, I would mix the mantra with the thoughts; at least I had both, and meditation time seemed a little more interesting. However, thoughts prevailed; I would think of everything and everybody…. there was my childhood, my relatives, my friends, my job, a road with a little bump on it, the lady selling fruit at the market….
Trying another trick, I would picture them with a big OM on their forehead and me whispering the same OM in their ears… it was not calming; the more I tried, the more agitated I became.
My body was recovering from a car crash, pain in my back and legs, impatience and an incredible restless feeling in my head and legs…I wanted to run, stretch my legs….. I would have never been able to achieve any kind of peace of mind sitting there… it was too uncomfortable.
I remember thinking about meditating while running, jumping….repeating that mantra while hiking or swimming, sing that mantra loud with any kind of tune that came to my mind.
Many times I thought of my meditation teacher saying: sit “comfortably” on a chair….I didn’t even like the sound of it, let alone the actual comfort a chair could give!
I could picture those long haired, long bearded men, sitting in total peace under a banyan tree as if there were in heaven. How did they do that? Did they have thoughts? Were they able to just follow that mantra, totally concentrated, enjoying a wonderful experience? If they were human, surely they must have had some difficulties too when they started. Else, they must have been incredibly patient….or had nothing else to do or to think of. They didn’t even have a chair; were they comfortable sitting on the bare ground with legs wrapped around them, it seemed….
Funny enough, each time I sat practicing meditation, in the same corner of that room, trying to build up the right energy in that space, the discomfort started. I suddenly had a gazillion more important things to do then sitting there repeating a word! What kind of energy I must have built in that corner….one of restlessness and despair….poor corner! I even thought it was the corner’s fault and gave it the evil eye; it must have been the wrong place to practice for some reasons unknown to me. So I tried other corners, open spaces, the shower tray and even the wardrobe but I felt the same… it was not the place; it was definitely me! I went back to the same corner, burned sage, lit incense, spread salt, got rid of the chair, sat in a kind of very optimistic crossed legged position and apologized for my behavior!!!
And I started again: ooommmmmm….ooommmmm……ooommmmm…..I have to go to the market later….ooops, where is the mantra??? Back to square one! Ooooommmm…..ooommmmmm….oommmmmm….chips for dinner….should call my mum….oooommmmm…..ooommmmm….what is my ex doing??? Oooommmmmmmmmmmm….la lalla lllaaaaa….zum pa, zummmmpa!!! My legs are killing meeeee…….Ooooommmmm…..this position is worse than the chair…..Oooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………….
One day, when “that corner” threw it all back at me, I found myself outside a building with a sign reading: BEGINNERS YOGA CLASS!
I had no yoga mat, I didn’t have the proper outfit, and luckily nobody worried about yoga clothes at that time or I would have been an outcast; not an ideal situation for someone who already felt like one. But yoga was yoga and nothing more; not the trend it is today. Mats were there, available for everyone to use. I unrolled a mat and sat on it in a corner of the room, while other aspiring yogis came in. Everybody smiled and looked very relaxed, which made me think I probably joined the wrong class; I was nervous and I wanted to move, that was it.
The teacher arrived and she was also very kind and relaxed. Maybe I should have drank that tea they offered me as I entered the room, maybe that was the reason of everybody’s relaxed mood. We all sat in silence for few minutes that felt like hours; oh gosh… I thought…this is another type of meditation.
But then……as we opened our eyes, the teacher gave us an explanation of how to breathe properly during what was to follow and asked us to stand up and practice with her. A series of slow motion movements started, where the body was bent and stretched back and forth, up and down… and at the end of a series of those stretches I was in heaven.
My body seemed to follow my breath in the slow movements. I realized there was a flow of energy going through every inch of my body. It was like I was able to create space in the body while my mind relaxed. And there was this happy feeling that I had never experienced. My body was tingling and I started to smile. The rest of the class was gentle stretching, balancing poses, backbends which were hell and I did not like them because my back was too tight, forward bends and a beautiful, relaxing visualization at the end of the class.
I left the class feeling like I was walking on a fluffy white cloud; little did I know this was the beginning of the rest of my life!