Thursday, August 9, 2012

Going Solo

For most of my life, I have preferred to go it alone.  An introvert by nature, my instincts lead me through a life where the only person on whom I must depend is myself.  That is what makes this story so disconcerting for me.

About 20-odd years ago, I started practicing yoga in my living room with a video tape.  For a number of years, I was content to practice along with the lady on the TV screen.  Over time, I mastered what I thought was the 'routine' of yoga through her instructional videos.  I thought it was pretty cool.

Then one day I happened to catch a TV program about yoga and my eyes were opened to the possibilities.  I always knew there were classes out there with impossibly thin and limber young women coercing others into pretzel-like shapes with calm aplomb.  I knew that the attendees would wear either long-sleeved leotards or organic cotton/bamboo blend yoga capris with hand-embroidered lotus flowers on the backs of the calves.  Tres chic.  And so NOT me.

What I didn't know is that a real yoga class is made up of real people wearing sweatpants and t-shirts and yes, the occasional yoga top and/or capris.  Real people with tight hamstrings and sweatpants and bandanas who actually started to sweat when they got into it. Real yoga classes had chanting and breathing and actual meditation.  Meditation?  For real? I had no idea these things happened anywhere near where I lived. I thought they were all out in California or on some mountaintop somewhere where people had nothing but time to intone aum and contemplate the tip of their noses.

I happened across a studio one day while visiting our local farmer's market. So, throwing caution to the wind, I tried a class. I was immediately hooked. Soon I found myself entangled and finally almost 2 years later nearly suffocated with it. After a less than stellar exit from the studio following my final class there, I promised myself I would never do that to myself again. I would never let myself fall into that same 'joiner' trap.

But of course I did. That's another blog with a similar ending that I haven't had the courage to write yet.

This blog is about going solo as the name implies. And I am getting to the point.

I had just had a falling out with the woman who I saw as my primary teacher over, of all things, my desire to learn to teach. I loved her. I would have done anything for her. Then she cut me. Deep.

I pushed everything about it away. I pushed my practice away. I shoved my desire so far down it was impossible to see or even feel anymore. For several years. I told myself that there was no point in even trying. I stopped practicing. I packed away my yoga books and equipment. I got on with my life.

Then, I ran into a friend from that studio on facebook. She's teaching yoga and ayurveda in Iowa these days but she comes to town on occasion to teach. Meeting with her re-ignited that old flame in my heart. As time goes by, the flame glows brighter and I feel drawn back to my practice.

Then, of course as it always happens, reality smacks me in the ass and I have to stop and think. I realize that I can't go back where I was and the logistics of finding and attending a new studio are complex with my current lifestyle. So, naturally, I did the only thing I could possibly do in that situation.

I gave up. If I can't go to a real class with a real teacher and be a part of something 'real,' why bother?  Well, I'll tell you why.

A couple days ago I read a blog post on about practicing at home. The author was talking about the fact that, as a teacher, she encourages her students to develop their own home practice. After all, yoga is about only one person, isn't it? It's about developing yourself. It's about...okay this is out there. It's about finding yourself and then being okay with what you find.  Very new age of me, huh?

So I put away the DVDs that I didn't want to do and turned off the computer and rolled out my mat.  With Deva Premal wafting from my boom box, I sat on my mat and started. I had no game plan. I had no idea where I was going with this practice. I was just going to go. I had my blocks and my strap and a brand new purple bolster. It was shakey, treacherous ground for me the woman who requires a list and a plan for everything.

Aaaaaaaannnnnnd GO!

It was magical. I spent 45 minutes twisting myself into my own little pretzel designs stiff though they were. As I came out of savasana, I had to stifle a laugh. What the hell had I been thinking? It still makes me smile.

So that's it. That's what going solo is all about. It's about knowing something about myself, then forgetting it only to have karma come back around and remind me of the fact that I am, by nature, a loner. How in the world could I let that slip my mind?

Thanks to Lisa Munger  and her blog From the Ground Up for lighting that flame in my heart again. I owe you one, aum girl.


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