by Maxine Iharosy, CYT
So it’s nearly the middle of January, it’s cold, the snow banks are high, and the general mood around town is relaxed with an attempt to be upbeat, in lieu of the fresh new year laid out ahead.
At the studio we usually see a jump in numbers in January, thanks to those who have the best of intentions to fulfill resolutions for more mindfulness, for fitness, for some kind of routine and structure…
I want to take the time to remind everyone to breathe. Here at the studio, people may be enticed to come here from external pressures, seeking the need to fulfill an aspiration, or to change something about themselves. To me, when I walk into the studio the pressure from the day, from the world around, tends to slip away. Often people have assumed this is my nature, to be relaxed, to be calm, to be constantly happy and content. But this is not the case, and in fact I’m actually human! I get angry, I get sad, I become irrationally stubborn at times, and I have weird quirks- like my desperate need to try and keep the stovetop clean at home.
The reason why pressure slips off my shoulders when I come to the studio, whether I’m teaching or participating in a class, is because here I feel like I can be fully accepted as myself, by myself and by others. I come here knowing that I have no idea what anyone else has been through in life, but that I’m going to practice yoga with them anyways. When practicing with others I hold space for them to let their guard down, and in return they do the same for me. And it’s nice.
I did not always feel comfortable in a yoga studio. When I first started practicing yoga I was conflicted between experiencing my practice and trying to externally show everyone else that I was experiencing my practice. What I’m trying to say is that I was quite self-conscious; I thought I had to make a certain face, act a certain way, and set standards for myself as to how a yogini should live. I used to take every movement in asana so seriously, because that’s what I thought mattered, and I actually found the whole experience quite stressful.
I want to let newcomers to the studio, and newcomers to the practice of Yoga, know that the easiest way to be yourself, is to give yourself the permission. I like to think of entrance to the studio to be like a checkpoint. Each time I walk through the door I consider if there’s something I can let go of from the day that in turn will support my ability to be present for myself, and others I’m practicing with. Motivations, standards, goals, resolutions, are all very important in their own right. But between each word on your 2015 resolution list, there is space. And that space is there to be a breath, to be the play, to be the fun, to be the enjoyment that carries us through from goal to goal, day to day.
Here at the studio I currently run 3 weekly classes. My Advanced practice on Mondays is sometimes not so advanced- I feed off the energy of those present, I go with my gut, and we play. On Wednesdays I have a gentle practice with plenty of mention for breath, and lots of time for heavy sighs and slow movement. Then there’s a Beginners class, which is partly an inspiration for this note, and an incentive for me to keep looking at the practice of yoga with fresh eyes as I’m reminded of how vulnerable it can be to do something as daring as seek unity with life, in a room full of strangers.
Give yourself a gentle smile, and perhaps I’ll cya around.