I went to my first yoga class in September 2012. Being a freshman in college while working full-time as a waitress didn't leave a lot of spare time to join a sports team, and I tend to look for any and all excuses to skip going to the gym. I thought yoga would be a good work out and give me a break from the daily clutter in my mind. The class was a vinyasa class, and the room was heated. I was surprised by how challenged I was, and the resistance of muscles I believed to be strong and limber. I quickly realized that yoga was not as easy as I had expected. My surroundings were also very exotic to me. Instead of the cold mirrors-and-concrete-walls look of typical fitness classes, the lights were dimmed, the walls painted a deep red, there were beautiful statues and flowers at the front of the room, and gentle music was playing. Everyone was preparing for class in their own way: stretching arms, sitting cross-legged with impeccable posture, some were even laying down. Some were quietly chatting and I noticed how out of my element I felt. A man sitting to my right introduced himself to me with a big smile, and I confessed that it was my first class and I wasn't sure what to do. The man assured me that most students were new to the practice, and that there were be no judgement passed. When class began it became clear that yoga (for me, at least) was not just a work out for my body. It was something more. Much more. Yoga connects me with myself, a deeper self, one that is not present in everyday hustle-and-bustle. That very first class opened my mind, my soul, and my heart, and I was hooked.
As the fall progressed and I continued to attend yoga classes, I found myself falling in love with the practice. The quietness, the relaxation, the stretching and challeneging of my body was dramatically different than the sports I played in high school. All throughout my life I was involved in high-intensity sports like basketball, volleyball, and finally, hockey. While I love playing competitive sports and miss them very much, I had never felt this sensation that I feel at and after yoga. I see things differently, I look for beauty in strange places and I appreciate small things. From watching my instructors at yoga I saw that they were different than most people you meet. They were kind, completely and honestly kind. They did not smile and welcome me because I was a client, but because they treated others with utter kindness and respect. With so much going on around us we often forget to treat others as well as we should, we forget to take time for ourselves, we forget to love ourselves and others. We cloud our minds and build walls around our hearts. We worry that we may be seen as different, and hide away our souls. These masters of yoga that I have come to know these past six months are open, kind, happy, and natural. I watched them in awe, and a little bit of jealousy. I want to live like that. I want to be in touch with my soul, and be kind to others. I want to learn to forgive others for their flaws and instead work on my own flaws.
I decided to take this semester off from college due to finances and find myself often quite bitter. Bitter about my friends whose parent's pay for their tuition. Bitter about the fact that I had to turn down my dream school's offer of admission simply because of money. Bitterness and envy are poisonous. They clutter my mind and surpress my soul. I have been spending my days sleeping late and trudging off to work the night shift. This is not me. I want to have a zest for life, spend every day enjoying the small things and appreciating my loved ones. The version of me I want to be takes practice. It is not easy to be welcoming and kind to everyone I meet. It is incredibly difficult to refrain from judegment and self-pity. And so I have decided to make this gap semester count. I am going to use my spare time to deepend my yoga practice and explore my soul. I am a mere caterpillar, but I will transform into the butterfly I so desperately need to be.