This semester, I started working at one of the yoga studios in Decorah. Twice a week after class, I make my way downtown to facilitate a class in something I love so dearly to mostly non-Luther students.
If I'm being honest, I hate thinking about doing yoga and teaching yoga. There is always so much to do and to plan: a sequence could always be smoother, my music selection could be better, my cues could be more meaningful, etc. I hate trying to time out an hour long class (I always start with way, way too much) and rushing from my dance rehearsal that ends at four to get ready for my class downtown by five. I also hate trying to find time to squeeze yoga into my daily routine, as the cost of doing it means less time for homework (or tv). Despite this fact, the second I walk into the studio, or the second I step onto my mat in my room, everything gets better.
By simply stepping into a space set apart for yoga, I can remember all the aspects of yoga that I dearly love. I love the physical practice of asana, I love the mindfulness of the pranayama (breath-work), and I love the challenge of daily trying to live yoga's ethical guidelines (I like to describe the yamas and niyamas as the "fruits of the Spirit" of yoga). Sometimes I even love the discipline of meditation (although that one is still very much a work in progress..). More than anything, I love the relaxation aspect of yoga, and the encouragement that we are currently all that we will ever need.
Right now, I'm working on a project for one of my Psych classes that is aiming to scientifically show the benefits of yoga on mental health (there are so many studies out there already!). Maybe it's placebo effect from reading journal articles all weekend, but I swear writing about yoga is activating my parasympathetic nervous system. It just feels so good.
Last week, it started raining just as we began savasana (final relaxation pose) at the end of class. For the last eight minutes, we lay on our mats, soaking up the practice and feeling gratitude for our bodies as the rain pattered against the windows of the studio warmed by our practice. Nothing could be more beautiful.