Sometimes the greatest challenge is to actually begin; there is something deep in us that conspires with what wants to remain within safe boundaries and stay the same.
– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us
Next Monday, August 26th, I’m offering the first, monthly, Intro to Yoga class. I know that what stops people from doing yoga is starting it. It can seem like yoga is only appropriate for people who already know how, or are already in great shape, or already super spiritual, or already know what the heck meditation means, or at least already have tight, black pants. Where is the entry point for yoga if you don’t already know anything? Where’s the front door and what is the special password?
In the past, I have offered a 5 or 6 week long Beginner’s Yoga series. But I didn’t offer it all year long, so if you finally get the courage up to take a beginner’s yoga class in January, it can seem like it is fate that you are not to start yoga until the next time…if you still feel like it then…and if all of the other stars in your solar system align. No More of That.
Every month (except December) of the school year, you will have an opportunity to take an intro to yoga class. You will learn the basic postures and get some perspective of what a yoga class is like. You can figure out what kind of yoga class might be right for you, whether with me or anyone else. The intro class will be slow, with a good portion of humor, and only dumb questions will be allowed.
What might be the biggest learning curve in starting a yoga practice is learning how to pay attention to yourself in a new way, with more curiosity and less critique . This isn’t paying attention to, or mildly obsessing about, all that’s wrong with you, where you hurt, or even what needs fixing. It is learning how to sit quietly and be a compassionate fly on the wall of your own experience, like observing your thoughts with compassion and not “You dumb old bird, why are you still like that!?”. This kind of paying attention invites you to sit with that sensation you might be quick to name as pain, and asks “Is that really pain? What else is that?”. It is paying the kind of attention you give to a beloved pet, who you might stare at all day and wonder how on earth it ever got to be this adorable, who you would never judge and critique for being it’s absolutely real self, with goofy ears.
I am worthy of paying attention to. I am worthy of learning from. I am worthy of taking care of.– Jen Rapanos, Well-Bean Yoga
In these Intro to Yoga classes I will offer no quick fixes or even give you a series of poses for you to change your life. But learning how to be a compassionate fly on the wall of your own life, might change how you see everything. It might sound self-absorbed at first, but how is the constant badgering of critique and self-doubt somehow better and more humble?
The Meditation Mantra of the Month is Beginner’s Mind. I’m inviting you to have a Beginner’s Mind to your own self. Get to know you and the amazing encyclopedia you are. What’s your favorite color these days and where do you love to see it most? Have you developed any allergies? Maybe you have noticed certain foods, or sounds, or ways of relating that irritate you? What is making you laugh? What is making you cry? Reflect on a recent struggle and what has come of it…focus less on the events and details of the struggle and more how you have been effected by it. Is something new brewing in you? What’s that about? Go poking around in your mind with the curiosity for more, like you might approach Google when you really want to know “who invented carrot cake as we know it?”, or other very interesting questions.
I maybe have made this all too serious? I promise – it isn’t. Try the Intro to Yoga class with me. The 4th Monday of every month, 7-8:15p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church (Green & Goodwin). The cost is $5. You don’t have to complete any or all of them to start a yoga class. But, if you want, I will make you a certificate to recognize your participation in the class! You can do it. I am certain that you already know far more than you think you do. If you are making plans to show up, write me so that I can look forward to seeing you! Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really hope to see you soon.
Peace on your head,