I attended my second yoga session this evening. I knew what to expect this week; I mean, it's not too different from what you see in magazines or on television, but nothing you see or hear in mass media can prepare you for the experience of yoga. (A quick caveat--it probably varies somewhat from teacher to teacher, and I've only had one so far.)
It feels natural to close your eyes while doing yoga, and that is what the women in my class do. (I, however, have to peek periodically, just to double-check that I'm in the right position.) It is perhaps the closed eyes that contribute to the feeling of zen. It, perhaps, is also the soft nature music, the gentle voice of the teacher, and the dim room, lit only by natural light and candles. Peaceful. Quiet.
The teacher tells us, as we begin, not to think any one thought too long. This is difficult for my obsessive-compulsive mind. But, I follow her instructions, breathing deeply and freely; and negative thoughts do finally seem to dissipate with each subsequent even breath. Instead of thinking about that day's thoughts, the teacher instructs us--as we dance our fingers up and down our feet--to think about our toes, to think about the skin of our fingers touching the skin of our feet, to think about what it feels like. These are thoughts that I don't ordinarily think about during the day; and, consequently, these are the thoughts that feel very important to me right then. Why haven't I been thinking about my toes?, I wonder.
The teacher asks us to think about what our feet do for us and, later, what our noses do for us. How often do you think about your nose? She actually asks that question. Again, I wonder to myself, why don't I think of my nose more often?
Press your fingers against each other, one hand facing the other, palm to palm. Think of the spaces that don't touch neatly together. How does it feel when your right pointer finger touches your left pointer finger?
So often we go through our days expecting our body to work endlessly for us--our legs to walk, our arms to lift, our fingers to type--but we don't always think of our body parts and how they work individually. It's that way in other aspects of life, too--we aren't always looked at as individuals; we're looked at as a team, a group, a class. When you're singled out, though, for something positive, how does that make you feel?
After two sessions of yoga, I certainly am not a yoga expert; but I think that, in some ways, the key objective of yoga is to invite a person to look at his or her body and, then, his or her whole life differently, if only for an hour session at a time.