The chiming bells of my blackberry alarm tell me it is time to wake up. It's early, too early for a Saturday morning. I consider ignoring the alarm and falling back into a beautiful, dreamy sleep that would surely lead to a wonderful sleep-in. Instead, I reluctantly get out of the warm comfort of my duvet, get dressed, and a few minutes later I am out the door. My mind races during the drive to my hot yoga studio. All the ‘to-do's' of my day running through my head: groceries, laundry, homework, life. Auto-pilot takes over, and mindlessly I maneuver all the twists and turns that have me pulling into the parking lot before I know it. My muscles quiver at the thought of the intense physical activity to come. It's been over a week since I have gone to a class and I have started to get soft and squishy already. Am wishing I had stayed in bed...
In the studio, I set my mat near the front of the class; I lie down and bask in the heat of the room. The instructor enters, he is new to the studio, and I haven't taken a class of his yet. I am surprised by his appearance; he looks nothing like a typical yoga instructor. He is a big and tall, round, asian man with round glasses, spiky hair, and braces. He begins the class by instructing us to take a deep breath and clear our minds. I am unsuccessful in doing so, thinking instead of his uncanny resemblance to an animated Japanese blowfish, with legs and arms attached, of course.
He leads us through the opening pranavama breathing exercises and I decide that I like him; he has a good tone to his voice, not sounding like a cartoon character at all. He also seems to know what he is doing, and I feel guilty for having judged him. Still, I cannot seem to clear my mind and focus. During the intense warrior series of postures, my arms are heavy and feel like jell-o. I am regretting that third glass of wine I had with dinner last night. With each breath, I am trying to focus, to let go of my thoughts and concentrate on this breath, live in this moment. I notice the girl behind me is doing her tree pose all wrong; it must be her first class. Inhale. Exhale. Focus. I ponder what flavor of smoothie I will get from the studio’s cafe after class. Hmmmm.... My eyes start searching the room for a distraction, and I see the anime-yogi-blowfish instructor coming over to me, as if being able to sense my frantic mind. While resting in child's' pose, he places his hands on my back, encouraging me to take full, soothing breaths. It works, and I finally am able to be mindful of my breathing. Deep inhales, long, slow exhales. Like waves coming into shore and back out into the ocean. His touch helps calm my mind, finally allowing me to focus. The rest of the practice flows seamlessly, almost effortlessly, without any thought or interruption. My clear breath leads me through the remaining balancing and spine strengthening series. By the final posture, savasana, my heart beat is the only thing I hear. Boom. Boom. Boom. Amazing vibes flow from the tips of my baby toes to the top of my forehead, bliss. I take in a final deep inhalation through my nose, filling my lungs to the brim with fresh oxygen, and let it all out. Ahhhhhhhh! I walk out of the class, ready to face the day ahead with the clear mind that only a great yoga practice brings.
I pass the instructor on my way out, and I place my hands in prayer at my heart center and bow to him in gratitude, I say: "The divine in me bows to the divine in you.” it is the English translation of the Sanskrit word ‘namaste’, used at the end of class to close a yoga practice. He smiles widely; a massive piece of spinach is caught in his braces.
I cannot stop smiling for the rest of the day.
-1 cup frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries or mixed)
-3/4 cup vanilla fat free yogurt
-1/4 cup milk (soy or 1%)
-1 tsp honey
-1 cup ice
*Blend all in ingredients together in blender/food proccessor
*For a smoother shake, reduce amount of ice
*makes 2 servings, enjoy with a friend after a challenging yoga practice!