Monday, April 12, 2010

Can You Help Me Fall in Love With Yoga?


Yesterday I was in line at the grocery store and I saw a yoga magazine with a beautiful Black woman on the cover. She looked so happy and healthy, I had to pick it up and see what I could do to capture that sense of inner and outer beauty. I also wanted to see what magazine this was, because I couldn't recall ever seeing a Black person on the cover of a yoga magazine. I thought perhaps it was a new yoga magazine just for Black people.

But it wasn't. It was Yoga Journal. I didn't have time to read through the magazine, but I did find out that the cover model is a yoga instructor in DC and she's about my age. So, I reasoned, if I started doing yoga, I too could look that fresh and healthy.

Only one problem. I really don't like yoga. And it's not because I'm Black and I think yoga is for White people. I just think yoga is boring. There I said it. I'm sorry. I faithfully went to yoga classes when I was pregnant with my first son. And I don't even know what kind of yoga this was, but every class included a butt-freaking cold shower as part of the practice. Once my son was out of the womb, I hung up my yoga mat. Over the years I've tried to go back to yoga, to different studios, at the gym, hoping that I could fall in love with the practice but I can never muster any enthusiasm for it. I'm sure it's me and not the yoga at fault, but I feel like I've given my best effort.

Here's the thing. Lately I've been feeling the need to get my body healthier. I need to find some form of exercise and meditation to bring me a sense of peace and strength. I think I need yoga. But wouldn't I just be setting myself up for failure to sign up for a class that I already have negative feelings for? Well, seeing that woman on the cover of Yoga Journal and reading about Afrikan Yoga, which sounds intriguing and a little more entertaining, my yoga mat is calling my name again. (Did you know yoga came from Egypt, not India? Note photo above.) Maybe I can do this. Maybe there is a yoga out there for me. One that will help settle my restless mind, strengthen my flabby muscles, and refresh my internal organs. But won't put me to sleep.

Any yoga devotees out there who can teach me how to fall in love with yoga? All advice is welcome.

8 comments:

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

I think boredom in yoga comes from a restless mind and lack of peace with one's self. (I hope that doesn't sound judgmental - I'm not trying to be.) I don't know what the cold shower bit was about, but at the studio I go to, we usually start with a meditation to get centered with the breath. Or we'll start with a chant, which not only helps set the intention or goal for the day's practice, but also I find it helps me get in tune with my breath. I have a bad tendency of holding my breath when I'm stressed.

In most yoga poses, what you want to do is try to find your edge: the spot where you can challenge yourself to get into better alignment and better flexibility, without causing too much pain. If you find your mind wandering, it probably suggests that you're not at your edge, but instead at some more comfortable spot that isn't challenging. The challenge is to bring your mind back to your mat and find a way to be curious about how your body is feeling, where you can learn to grow, and where you can learn to let go.

I don't think boredom with yoga is a racial thing. I think it has more to do with a human and cultural addiction to the drive to finding happiness and peace in external things, rather than inside.

I hope this is helpful to you!

Lovelyn said...

I have to agree with Jade. If you're feeling bored you're not pushing yourself in your practice. I love yoga and their are so many styles you can do. If you feel like you need more of a challenge you can try Bikram or hot yoga. I don't like this style because I hate being hot, but I know a lot of people who like it. When I do yoga at home I usually what this YouTube channel. http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=sadienardini
Her videos that are entire hour long classes are quite challenging.

shakti said...

"When the student is ready, the teacher will come." I went through EXACTLY the same cycle as you did. Initial boredom. Fell off. Then feeling as you do--went back and discovered a true passion for it. I tried many types of yoga--it all depends on your needs, but weirdly enough I enjoy it all. A report on diff types of yoga.Im so sure there's one, or 2 out there for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AId2P59HcBQ

LT said...

Jade,
Doesn't sound judgmental at all. Sound just about right actually. That's why I think I need yoga. I'll take your advice to heart.

Lovelyn,
It's not like I'm bored because I find yoga easy. I just get bored because everything is so slow and mellow. I'd probably die in a Bikram class. I'm so unflexible And I did do the hot yoga thing once. It was intense...and kind of stinky with all that heat and all of those bodies. Some of my boredom prolly also comes because I'm not very good at the actual poses so i feel kind of like a failure. So, it goes back to what Jade said. I'm not at peace with myself.

Shakti,
thanks for giving me hope. it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

G said...

I'm smiling as I read your post today-- I've avoided yoga for the same reason for years. Restless mind, yes, absolutely. But I do feel like I'm at peace with myself, wandering thoughts, boredom and all. I keep hoping there is some sort of something out there that I can try...and that I just have to find the right match of instructor, type of yoga, etc.

Nif said...

I like taking classes with Bobbi Tighe at http://www.chestnuthillyoga.com/
Her sense of humor makes the work lots more fun for me, and she's really good with newbies.

LT said...

G and Nif,
Thank you. And thank you.

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