Breathing Life into a Practice

I finally did it. I took my very first yoga class this year on my own as a student.  It was my second yoga class this calendar year.  First one was a hot power yoga class at Down Dog Yoga that my ex-boyfriend dragged me to catching up one night. It was challenging and exhilarating. I nearly passed out.

But last night I checked out the new yoga studio in my hood – Shaw Yoga. Always socializing, I stopped in to welcome them to the neighborhood.  The space – gorgeous, well lit  and serene- called me to hang out for bit.

It was my day off… and on impulse it occurred to me: Why not just take a class again?

It had been a while.  Occupational hazard – I teach 7 yoga classes a week and I have no asana (yoga posture) practice to speak of really.  I have a solid daily meditation practice that keeps me grounded and inspired and sane. I demonstrate postures in my classes.  I bike from gig to gig. I do Thai bodywork.  My active lifestyle is enough to keep me in shape and present in my body, but not truly challenged.

Next class in 15 minutes with Gina was Ashtanga inspired.  I panicked. Ashtanga has always intimidated me because well, precision has never been my thing. That’s why I’ve always gravitated to prana-flow practices. Perhaps this aversion to precision also explains my impatience with recipes- following & creating them.  Elizabeth, one of the studio’s founders assured me that it would be taught at a mixed level, and there’s nothing to fear.

I needed to relieve some stress and release into someone else’s guidance as a student, without the responsibility for anyone else’s practice.

I’m about to take a big trip to the Mediterranean – a 50 day sabbatical to teach, serve and learn about nutrition and healthy lifestyle in Egypt, Lebanon, Israel & Palestine, and Spain.  Though I successfully transitioned out of the international development & conflict resolution field, I miss international work.  This trip – with workshops lined up thus far in Cairo, Beirut, and Ramallah – is an opportunity to expand the scope of my practice internationally.

And while I’m truly excited for exploration, attending to all of the logistical and financial arrangements has been stressful to say the least.

But I wasn’t prepared for the the emotional hurdles.  The practice of balancing compassion and respect towards my family – who express love and affection through protection and concern – and still stand up for myself.

I’m the youngest and only girl in a Middle Eastern family and even though I’m pushing 32, I always have to negotiate for confidence in my decisions and indeed the merits of my lifestyle and career choices.

Especially when my failed marriage to an abusive alcoholic asshole – and my family’s heroic & comprehensive intervention to get me out of it – can always be cited as proof that my instincts and decisions can’t be trusted.  Them bones.  What’s family for I suppose if not to dig them up at convenience.

So by the time walked into Shaw Yoga, I knew I was supposed to take a break and stay put for a moment. To just show up and just be a student without responsibility for anyone else. To release into someone else’s voice and guidance and literally breathe life into my practice.

And it was perfect.  Gina was perfect. Relaxed, encouraging and yes, precise – without any intimidation factor.  And Otis Redding and Bill Withers on the playlist was pretty perfect too. Gave me the permission to release into a soulful heart opening joy.

This is another first too… First non-recipe post on this blog this calendar year too. And I’m hoping the revival of a robust blogging presence to stay in touch with my clients and community while on the road.

Thank you Gina & Shaw Yoga for creating the space and inspiration.



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