on my yoga mat

When I roll out my Yoga Mat, it’s not just about exercise. Rolling out my mat begins an emotional, physical and spiritual journey every time.

I started practicing Yoga about five years ago. Like many in today’s society, I was battling some anxiety issues. My doctor suggested Yoga might help. At first, I practiced at home using DVDs, which were surprisingly inspiring. Then, one day, I found a Groupon for The Yoga Shelter where my practice truly began.

There are various ways to practice yoga and many “flows.”  I prefer Slow Flow, which is exactly what it sounds like. You slowly move from one pose to another, building strength in lengthy holds and breathing patterns along the way. Lately, though, I’ve become a little more adventurous and tried out Fusion, which combines Slow Flow with some faster “flows” that you memorize and process on your own. But mostly in yoga, I try to Not think or control, since that’s one of my personal challenges.

When I began classes at the Shelter, I found myself fixated on the music and how it made me feel. I downloaded music I heard into my Yoga Mix. Now, I don’t notice the music as much. But I do gravitate to specific teachers — Brittney, Marty and Suzanne — and find their classes the best fit for me personally. See, for me, yoga is more than exercise … it’s a transformative experience. The teachers guide you in poses, yes. But they also help you set an Intention at the beginning of class, and guide you through the hour. They help direct your thoughts and both your physical and spiritual exercise. They present ideas that flow with you as you practice.

Today as part of the class, Brittney mentioned the 3 Cs of Yoga. And, during the next 60 minutes, she explained them. Concentration, Consistency, and Cooperation. You Concentrate to remain present, prevent your mind from wandering and to build focus. You practice Consistently to become stronger emotionally, mentally and physically. And you Cooperate with your fellow yogis, adding your energy to the room and inspiring each other.

cropped-img_8686.jpgBut for me, there are 5 Cs. Next comes the Calm … in a difficult pose, I shake. Sometimes I even fall. Sometimes balancing is too difficult. Sometimes I can’t do a specific pose. Instead of becoming impatient, I work on cultivating a Calm response, And that’s something I seek to take from my mat into the world after class … a Calm response when stuff doesn’t go my way, when I struggle or when I fall.

And next I work on one of the most difficult things for me.The Fifth C. Reliquishing Control and Letting Go.

Ask anyone, they will tell you that I am a Control Freak. Giving up control makes me Nervous. I mean, how can I be sure my son will finish that project if I don’t check in and get regular updates? How can I tell if my daughter is ready for her test if I don’t ask? How can I know the showers will get cleaned if I don’t remind my husband? How can I get that invitation to the party, play or event if I don’t show my interest and convince them I want to be there? How can I be sure I’ll get a call or text if I don’t reach out? How can I get the part if I don’t prepare? How do I know what’s going on if I don’t ask? How do I know things will go the way I hope they will go if I don’t do something to make it happen?

See, Letting Go is pretty much the most difficult thing for me. I’m sure Idina Menzel’s famous tune is known to all. Well, it’s my Theme Song. I have an Elsa watch and three charms on my Pandora bracelet reminding me to “Let It Go.”  I have songs on my iPhone focusing on Surrender. I use essential oils like Release and Surrender to encourage that peace somewhere deep inside me that will finally allow me to do just that.

On my yoga mat is where I do a lot of my work. I meditate before class. And there, I remain calm and even laugh a bit at myself when I fall out of balance. There, I am learning to Let It Go. There if  the pose doesn’t go the way I’d hoped, I can remain calm. On my mat, I concentrate, practice consistently and cooperatively share my light with the class.

So Brittney, there are 5 Cs to Yoga. And it’s the 5th C that causes me the most challenge … and keeps me coming back to your class to practice again and again and again.

Maybe one day, I’ll get it. But for  now, I remain calm and just keep practicing …

Namaste.

                                                                                                                                   — Jenni

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