My first studio yoga experience was a hot studio. It’s the best feeling practicing with other people and a real life teacher. Years of practicing at home with DVD’s was nothing compared to this. I loved being able to leave my house (I had two young toddlers at the time) and get “me” time. I would even stay for back to back classes. I was addicted. The classes were packed, so I didn’t ever really talk to anyone. People came in, did their practice and then left to get back to their lives. I was fine with that. It’s what I did too.
I remember complimenting a woman on her top and she told me it was something lemon. I googled it when I got home and almost fell off my chair when I saw their pricing. It was definitely a different world than mine, but I didn’t care. I had one teacher specifically I loved because a lot of her sequences were the same so I could find my groove and not feel so stranded.
Then one day I saw a class by a weird name. Having no clue what it was, but wanting to consume everything yoga, I went. There were only about 8 of us and the heat was turned off. We talked before class and I got a brief run-down of what to expect. The teacher stepped in front of us, a recital of something I had to clue what was being said, and we began the most transformative experience I have had, next to becoming a mother.
Nothing changed my life the way that Ashtanga has. I became aware of my breath. I dropped into myself on a level I didn’t even realize was possible. Not only did I do poses that seemed crazy complicated, and didn’t defeat me like the constant striving towards handstands did, but everything was so simple. I didn’t feel lost. I didn’t feel out of place. I had a teacher who saw me, who started to know what my body was capable of and gently helped me go deeper. I felt like I was finally stepping in to who I was meant to be.
I quickly realized that my previous addiction to yoga was a means to escape my daily life. As soon as my husband came home I would rush to tune out. Sweating profusely, loud music, fast moving poses, I could forget about all my responsibilities. Once I started Ashtanga, it made me confront what I was escaping. I couldn’t be distracted or hide. Everything I tried to push down or block out immediately rose to the surface. If I didn’t deal with it then and there, my practice and my mentality would suffer. My husband said once I started Ashtanga he saw a difference. I was more mindful, more present and I showed up. Life didn’t feel like something I needed to escape, but something I could embrace.
Ashtanga is another responsibility on my plate. The devotion and dedication is right up there as the same priority as my family. It’s a six day a week practice, no excuses. However, it’s the thing I have to do to make sure I’m being the best to myself and my family. It’s meant to be the house-holders yoga and family life is the seventh (and hardest) series. Showing up in my practice means I can better show up for my husband and my children. If I take care of myself, I can take better care of them. I still sweat just as much as I did in a hot studio, and I’ve gone back to mostly practicing at home on my own. But it’s different now. I’m no longer escaping or running away. I’m showing up, I’m processing and I’m learning how to be authentically me. And just like my family, it doesn't feel like a responsibility or burden. It feels like something I look forward to being a part of, and I can't wait to see where it takes me in this beautiful life.