It’s 7:30 on a Tuesday night. I have entered the main door to a building which houses a yoga studio. I have my Groupon in hand, mat flung over my shoulder, and I am ready to get my zen on. Luckily, I meet a fellow student on my way into the building. She has been here before and she shares her wisdom on how to make it past the second, locked door. We ascend the regal staircase to the top floor. I see a large, dark door marked “Love Yoga.” Yes, I think, this is where I am meant to be. I ask my wise fellow student if we can go in. She informs me that there may still be a class in the room, so we should wait until the teacher emerges from the studio. For a moment, I am perplexed. Is there no lobby with a front desk where we check in? Perhaps show our Groupon? So I go for the bold move. I ask my wise fellow student if it’s only a one-room studio behind the large, dark door. The answer is yes. I am curious. How does this work? I’ve never been to a yoga studio that is, literally, just a studio. No lobby. No computer. No specified area to leave your non-yoga things. Hmmm, I think.
The teacher emerges from the room. “Hello, Ladies. Come in.” I believe her to be the interesting character I spoke to on the phone last week. She is the Redeemer of the Groupon. She opens the door to a corner room. And it is just that. A room. A wide open, carpeted space, with great, big windows overlooking a beautifully lit His Majesty’s Theatre, sporadic Buddha figures throughout, and a bookshelf with a few books and a tiny clock. This is, most certainly, not what I expected. Upon entering the practice space, I am called upon to sign in via a notebook. Alright, I suppose I can do that. There is no yoga history form or waiver to fill out. I must simply give my first name and email address. Hmmm, I think again, this is different from home.
I survey the trapezoid-shaped room to ascertain how I will need to set up my mat. I am only the third person in the room and no one is on their mat. I am unsure which mat is the teacher’s. I am unsure what constitutes the front of the room. So I slowly remove my jacket and shoes. I fish in my bag for my towel and water bottle with the utmost care. And I cautiously remove my top layer of clothes. I am wearing a yoga top and capri leggings. To me, this is normal. However, I soon find myself overdressed. I suspect that a yoga outfit is not particularly common in these parts. But, alas, I am here for my practice and not my classmates’.
Yes, I must remember that. I am here for my practice.
My Groupon entitles me to one 90-minute ashtanga class per week for six weeks. I was told, when I reserved my place, that the Monday class wasn’t really for beginners, unless a person was quite strong. As I have been out of practice lately, I didn’t want to overestimate my abilities and end up chastising myself for pushing too hard or too far. So, here I am, at Tuesday’s closer-to-beginner-than-intermediate class.
The Redeemer of the Groupon begins class by explaining the general progression of today’s class. Sun salutations, standing postures, heart openers, and relaxation. Okay, I think, I can handle that. She proceeds to demonstrate some of the postures. Fair enough, I think. I know there are some students in the class who have never practiced yoga before. This could also potentially provide me with another perspective to some of the postures I have grown accustomed to over the years. So, yes, this looks promising.
However, I have mentally prepared for 90 minutes of flowing, breathe in, breathe out, yoga. This is not that. There are many breaks for long explanations and demonstrations. I acknowledge that these small breaks are helpful, especially coming off a long sabbatical from my yoga practice. But unfortunately, my zen does not come in the breaks. My zen comes with the flow. My zen comes when I see the wall approaching and I tune out everything else that distracts me from beating that wall. My zen comes when that wall and I get so close that the only thing I can see and feel is myself in each posture.
So my zen did not appear today. But something else did. A bit of enlightenment came today. Realizing that sometimes, going back to the basics is the best way to move forward. I look forward to working on my practice with the Redeemer of the Groupon. I think she will be quite helpful in the search to find my zen again. Ohmmm, I think this time.