Yoga. When I talk about it or tell my fellow blogger friends that I will be attending a local Yoga class, I always set my expectations high. I will go to class with my friend, my latest yoga wear and mat in tow, and lay on the floor watching the darkness fill the room around me and the music will clear my mind replacing it with calm and tranquility. Sounds easy enough.
I try to see pictures of flowing waves and a serene beach. What I see when I close my eyes and try to clear my mind is quite different. The beach is in the periphery of my mind somewhere, and the majority of my mind is filled with dinner ideas, school lesson plans and my laundry list, oh, and the red wine stain from yesterday. How do I get that out? I enter the studio and watch my fellow yoga enthusiasts around me. I wonder what they are thinking as the lights dim and the quiet completely engulfs the humid room. Are they thinking of the work that they have to do later on that night? The horrible meeting they had that day that won’t seem to leave the contents of their minds? I hear people around me breathing so loudly as if they have no worry in the world and don’t seem to care how it sounds amidst the quiet. I wonder if they are similar to me in their active conflict or ‘war’ between worry and peace. Similar to the famous novel written by Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, I feel like I am struggling with the dichotomy as eloquently described within its 1000+ pages. I want to find peace but I am fighting a war to get there. I can’t possibly be the only person fighting this war. Why does it seem so easy for some and not so easy for me?
Don’t get me wrong. I love going to my yoga classes. I love my instructors. I have a favourite ‘go to’ instructor who speaks calm so fluently that it inspires me every time to improve my practice. He encourages us to join hands with the person beside us and become one with the room (I have yet to reach out and touch the hand of a neighbour or even my friend and fellow blogger, Mary, in the room–as you get to know me, you’ll find that I am not the touchy-feely type!). The poses feel so good and I find myself generally feeling looser and more relaxed by the end of my class. I am not what you would call a flexible person in any way. Far from it. I watch other yoga participants seem steady on their feet and I am struggling with my shaking legs to stay upright. I listen to the next pose that was introduced, look around and wonder if I have heard the instructions correctly. Most of the time I am, but there are times that I am lost. I have realized over time that I do not have to be at the ‘yoga instructor level’ to have a successful class and feel less stressed and more relaxed.
After most of my classes, I find that I have achieved at least some element of peace and calm in my busy world again. My own war is now over for another day. My teaching and family life have, at some level, melted into the periphery of my mind and I can finally see the beach and waves in my centre of vision and focus by the end of the 75 minute class. Success? I will enter my next class with the same struggle. War. Peace. War. Peace. Maybe it will take more time to achieve a more quiet, peaceful mind for a portion of my day. Will I get there? I can’t really say. I am determined to attend more yoga classes to find out. Maybe other people out there feel the same way that I do and have a piece of advice on how to find this hard-to-find, elusive peace.