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Taking steps with laughing Buddha

March 07, 2014 By: nooccar Category: health

We live day to day without ever really considering how we live. We fear direct communication. We fear hurting people’s feelings. We fear what people think of us. We fear how people will react. I too have been guilty of all of these things for so long. It’s been an upward battle and most of it I don’t care to admit day to day. But things need to keep changing. For my sake. For my daughter’s sake. For the sake of relationships in my personal life and public life. The battle continues, and the next step is yoga. I had preconceived notions about yoga. I thought pretty people did yoga, fit people did yoga. I thought yoga cost a lot of money, and I thought people farted during yoga. That last bit is definitely a mortifying concern. You’re in a room with lots of pretty people and suddenly you just do it. Immediately you perceive that every single person heard you, and your face is flamed with embarrassment while you’re certain you’ve destroyed everyone’s experience. These are the things that kept me from yoga. These and the fact that I felt for so long that there was nothing I could do to better myself. I could not reach out to people. I could not learn from them. I could not admit my own faults. Change begins with a single step.

The first step was asking if yoga would be good for me and my daughter. We both have tempers. We both have problems regulating our emotions. Her other grand mother had suggested yoga might be good for Claire, but I always thought that was some weird woo woo spiritual thing. I would just smile, shrug, and move on. Then lately, I’ve had lots of discussions about self-improvement. About how to connect body and mind, to be mindful, to slow down and think. It was time to try yoga. We, as parents, naturally want to help our children (I hope) before ourselves. I found Claire a kids yoga class in Gilbert, AZ. It cost $5. Wow. Only $5. I figured it’d be closer to $20-$30. I took her on a Friday night. I was nervous to even go in to the studio. There were all the pretty people, with yoga mats slung over their shoulders, doing pre-yoga rituals that I didn’t understand. Claire was nervous, too, but she’s very assertive. When she went in, she was as tall as instructor and that helped. Miss Jannette is an older lady, short and friendly, with a huge infectious smile. The other students in the class were all at least two years younger than Claire. While there were two yoga classes simultaneously for adults, I didn’t tell Claire that parents who weren’t participating in those classes would not be sticking around. I wasn’t sitting there for 100 minutes for no reason. At the very last minute, I told her I’d be back later and Jannette ushered her into the room. Claire shrugged and allowed herself to be led away.

I went off to keep myself busy (you may not know this, but I can keep myself busy anywhere anytime. Just check the four backpacks I bring everywhere). I returned an hour and half later. I was surprised by how dark it was. I’d not realized a lot (most?) of yoga was practiced in the dark. I sat in a dark room with my shoes outside, staring at my phone (I couldn’t see anything else anywhere), and praying no one would realize an impostor was among them. It reminded me of the time I went to Easter Mass with this woman I fervently wanted to be dating. When it was time for communion, our entire row was ushered to the front of the church. The priest said some words to me, and I think I was supposed to spit back some preconceived soundbite that I didn’t know. He asked if I were Catholic. I wasn’t. I felt like I was called out in front of a thousand people. This felt like that. It wouldn’t be the only time, so far.

When Claire eventually came out of Yoga, I asked her how it went. She answered, “It was Ah-MAZing!” (Yes, that typography was exactly her inflection.) She immediately needed to call her mother and her aunt to tell them all about it.

It’s so important to practice what you preach with children. If I were encouraging Claire to try yoga, I needed to do it, too. Done right, I believe now, as I write this, that it can benefit us both. So now it was my turn. I talked to my girlfriend, a firm believer in yoga herself, and expressed my anxiety about the situation. I asked if she’d go with me my first time. She has her own yoga instructor in Tempe, so Wednesday evening we headed off to yoga. She told me to wear loose fitting shorts and shirt, to bring water, and that the first time would more than likely be free. Upon arriving, I immediately forgot my water in the car, had to fill out papers that say I won’t sue if I die on the mat, and then couldn’t find Sara. There was a curtained room and also what I thought was a bathroom, but no girlfriend. My eyes still hadn’t really adjusted to the dark (I even carry a flashlight with me often), and these gorgeous, thin people were coming and going. I stood there shaking in a corner, not sure where to go or what to do. I felt like I was back at Easter Mass, or that show GRIMM where you look at people and their faces morph into beasts. I felt like that would happen at any second before they were upon me, devouring me to the ground. And then Sara’s fingers slipped back into my mine.

She showed me where to stow my gear, before taking me into the main room. It was dark. There were candlelights around the entire room. Sara and I had signed up for a Restorative yoga with candlelight with Robin. Robin and Sara have known each other for years, and once we entered the main room she took me to meet the instructor. We quietly spoke about my fears, etc… and I felt better. I was still nervous, but no hexenbiests would get me with Robin and Sara around. Sara grabbed me a mat, bolsters, blocks, and a blanket. We were surprised when our friend A appeared for yoga. We said our hellos, and she jokingly said “first time eh? you’re in the front.” Front? OMG I was in the front? People would be doing yoga behind me? I turned to Sara who shrugged. Her ADD requires her to be in front, so there I had it. I swallowed the lump in my throat and took to my mat. Robin moved about the room, speaking quietly, lowering the few lights that were still on, and talking to us about breathing. Class started. Occasionally when I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, I peeked towards Robin or Sara. Most of the time I was dead on. While stretching, twice Robin whispered in my ear out of nowhere to check on me. It wasn’t awkward. I didn’t feel like everyone heard it or focused on me. I was just one more person enjoying the class. The class we chose was a restorative class where we spent almost the entire hour and a half low to the floor. Things popped and shifted back to center. I felt good. I stretched in ways I didn’t know the body would stretch, and afterward Sara said she was impressed I could do certain poses as well as I did.

Now, I know there’re other types of yoga classes (what’s with that hot stuff?), and the Friday adult classes during my daughter’s session is an “All levels” class. I will be attending with Claire tonight. I don’t know how I will do, if I will know the poses, or if I will be able to follow along with each pose, but I feel better about yoga now. Sure I am still having some anxiety about going, but, as I said, to improve myself there are changes I need to make in my own life. Changes I am trying to make. Breaks I am taking from how I’ve lived my life in the past. Things change, we change. If we do not continue to change as individuals, as parents, as couples, then we remain stagnant. While I like routine, I need to be mindful of ways to improve me, to improve my relationships. I’m trying, world. And with that I take small steps.

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