Ahh my first yoga class – I remember it so clearly. It was a sunny day in August 2011 and a friend had convinced me to go to a class with her at a local studio. I had heard about yoga and was interested in the idea of it. The problem was that I was going through chemotherapy at the time and this made it seem more than a little bit intimidating to show up to a group fitness class with my weak body and shaved head. But after some reassuring, my friend convinced me that we could set our mats up in the back corner of the room, that no one would be paying any attention to us and that everything would be okay…maybe even enjoyable. Reluctantly, I agreed and off we went.
We got to the class early and set up our mats in the back corner of the studio (as promised). People started filing into the room and just my luck – it was a full class. So many questions were rushing through my mind. Should I sit? Should I lay down? Which way do my feet go? Open eyes or closed? How am I going to survive this class? What have I gotten myself into? How long do I have to sit here quietly before this begins?
After what felt like an eternity of waiting, the teacher walked into the room and began her loving cues. Breathe, move, repeat. Sun salutations, downward facing dog, dancer’s pose, pigeon pose, baby cobra pose, utkatasana (let’s just throw in some Sanskrit) and oh yes, remember to use your ‘ujjayi’ breath. It was a foreign language. I struggled through that first class to say the very least but I did manage to master one pose: child’s pose…also known as the survival pose of anyone’s first yoga class.
What I thought would be a group fitness class was so much more. It was a time to pay attention to nothing but myself and my body. It was a journey inwards and I was hooked.
After an array of asanas, the teacher cued us to lay on our mats – savasana (corpse pose) had come. The lights dimmed and I felt a great sense of relief. The difficult part was over and now I could simply just lay on my mat. Luckily for me, I realized quickly that ‘just laying on my mat’ wasn’t really an option. As I closed my eyes and let the stillness sink in, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Surprised, I started to tear up and let the tears fall from my eyes. Don’t resist it, just let it happen. It was a good kind of tears. I felt good in my body for the first time in a very long time and I loved this feeling.
I didn’t know it at the time but as all yogis know, there is so much more to savasana then just laying on your mat. Some say that it is the most difficult asana of all because it is a time to lay in stillness and quiet the chatter of your mind. A time to simply just be. What I thought would be a group fitness class was so much more. It was a time to pay attention to nothing but myself and my body. It was a journey inwards and I was hooked.
I felt good in my body for the first time in a very long time and I loved this feeling.
Five years later, I have fallen more and more in love with yoga. It grounds and centers me. It allows me to bring gratitude into my life. It allows me to quiet my mind. It allows me to pay attention to body. Most of all, it allows me to feel comfortable in my own skin and to love unconditionally the person that I am.
People always seem to struggle with trying something new – with some element of the unknown. I know that going to your first yoga class can be intimidating. Maybe you don’t feel thin enough, flexible enough, strong enough, or patient enough to give yoga a try. But yoga is so much more than this.
“Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in. And this is the point of spiritual practice; to make us teachable; to open up our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are.” – Rolf Gates
I am so grateful to my friend who brought me to that first yoga class because it has completely changed my world. I would encourage anyone to step past that initial fear and step onto your mat. Stepping onto your mat will allow you to step inwards and love yourself with all that you’ve got. If we could all do this, what a wonderful place this world would be. Now get out there and find your yoga!
Keep Shining — Kate☀️
*Note: This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.