My Yoga journey began about 20 years ago, when I started attending a weekly after-work class with a colleague, whilst working in central London. I’d always been aware of the value of Yoga, having a hippy mother who had been doing it since the ‘70s, and I enjoyed the classes I attended during that time; but work and the energetic social life of a 20-something soon took over and eventually I fell off the mat and into a very protracted and lazy Savasana.
Rediscovering My Practice
However, thankfully that was not the end of my relationship with Yoga and just over three years ago, now living in a different town, with a different life and with more stress than ever before due to working full-time and studying for a part time Master’s degree, my mother convinced me that I really needed to re-discover my practice, and urged me to research some nearby classes. And so, one chilly, dark September evening, I wandered nervously into the hall of a local community centre and at that moment, Yoga re-entered my life. From that one tentative session a week, over the past three years I have increased my practice to four classes, and try hard to do my own practice at home on the days in between (thank Shiva for Erin Motz!) I even take my mat abroad these days, trying to keep up my practice and maintain my equilibrium while I’m away. It has without doubt, changed my life, in so many ways.
It was this desire to keep up a consistency that also led me to something which a few years’ ago would have seemed a highly unlikely proposition — taking a class in a foreign country. Despite now attending classes in the town where I live, and feeling comfortable with the tutors and students, I had never put myself into a position where I would push myself out of my comfort zone and contemplate joining a session elsewhere. It was hard enough on those first few times I joined a new class at ‘home’, let alone a place where I had no idea of the level and depth of the practice I would be committing to.
And yet, this summer, whilst my partner and I were enjoying a 3 week road trip through the western United States, we came upon a little town on the Oregon coast, where we’d planned to stay for a couple of nights. While exploring on our first evening, I noticed a quirky little yoga studio on the main street, which advertised a 9am drop-in class on the following morning.
Buoyed by a couple of glasses of local wine, I decided there and then that I would try it, (whilst secretly hoping that my partner would have forgotten my rash promise by the morning). Yet there he was, at 8am the next day, ordering me to get up and get to class. Argghh! By this stage I was feeling utterly intimidated by my own bravado and wondering how I could get out of it, but in the end my own pride prevailed – I wanted to PROVE something to both myself and to him – and so we walked down the road to the studio, he waved me goodbye (with the promise of a huge diner breakfast afterwards) and encouraged (or was that pushed..) me up the stairs.
Keeping a Promise to Myself: Leaving My Comfort Zone
Wow I was nervous. But as soon as I walked into the studio, the smiling friendliness of the tutor, the calming essence of the room, the very nature of being in this cosy, welcoming, safe, environment, calmed me and during the next hour and a half of Vinyasa flow, I felt myself relax into it, growing in confidence and finding a real sense of calm. The class turned out to be very similar to those I had attended back home and I was relived to feel fairly matched in ability with my mat-peers. It just felt right.
At the end of the class, as I rolled up my mat, the tutor commended me on my practice, indicating surprise when I told her how nervous I had been in this, my first foray into international Yoga classes. And so, as I walked down the stairs and out into the warmth of an Oregon Saturday morning, I felt wonderfully calm, relaxed and proud of my achievement – feeling as though I had over-come a personal hurdle and with a new-found strength which I hadn’t known was in me; reassuring myself that it was alright, that I could do it and that this would not be the last time.
And to me, that’s what Yoga brings – a daily surprise and pleasure at what I can do and the anticipation of further growth, with every stretch.
Over to you, yogis! When has yoga brought you outside of your comfort zone? Share with us in the comments!