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I am not kidding: these are actual events. I have a hard time with this sort of thing, but before you start throwing your yoga props (or your barware) in indignation, hear me out.
First of all, may I say I love a good handcrafted ale or a full-bodied glass of Malbec! I delight in a whiskey on the rocks. I relish a finely executed cocktail poured by a sexily tattooed bartendress while I am wearing fancy lady shoes and a little black dress, perched on a sleek modern bar stool under flattering mood lighting, listening to Sade covers. Would my yoga practice precede or be combined with any of these activities? Nope and here's why.
People go to yoga classes for different reasons. For some, they gravitate towards vinyasa as a workout and stress reliever. Yin might be for chilling out and not "doing."
Maybe you want a great butt
Maybe you really like the outfits
Maybe you are looking for a date
Maybe it is to try something new, or because it is popular
Maybe it is a moving meditation
Maybe your doctor recommended it, or that heart attack pushed you into action.
A million reasons bring people to the mat, but there is one unifying phenomenon that occurs whether you are conscious of it or not. It forces you to be present.
Your breathing is slower, fuller, and more directed and specific. You turn inwards and listen, pay attention to your experience, aiming for no disconnection between where your attention is and what your body is doing.
When we do not check out, the emotional and physical armor begins to dissolve and sometimes a whole lot of feelings can surface, presenting themselves to be looked at. It might be small, day-to-day stuff, or it might be old trauma, old wounds, old hurt. When we can stay with the vulnerable discomfort and not try and push it away or numb it out, there is an opportunity for it to release instead of staying stuck and hidden. This is one of the greatest benefits of the practice.
I am moved by witnessing what arises when students show up on their mat, just as they are and breathe deeply with their full attention, letting everything else fall away. It makes me want to marinate in that experience and not want to cover it up, or drown it, or hurry on to the next distraction.
Just because we can, doesn't mean we always should.
That is where discernment and listening to our inner voice come in, and sometimes it is very difficult to recognize whether that is our wise inner knowing or our inner rogue pirate talking. It takes practice, attention, and review.
"How did that work out for me?" "Did I feel like that was a wise choice?" "How did my body feel? My heart?"
This is true for every circumstance we find ourselves in as humans.
The path is different for everyone. There is no template. Hopefully we grow in the process.
Drink a lot of water, bask in the afterglow of your practice, and see what feels right for you. You may discover that you are not in such a hurry to jump up, put on your pants, check your phone and run out the door to the next shiny thing or tasty beverage.
You might just want to quietly linger. It's your call.
Jodeen Revere revels in her unconventional, multifaceted dream life. She is an actor, a writer, Thai yoga massage therapist, creative movement and dance enthusiast, and RYT-200 yoga teacher currently on an endless sabbatical. She writes a blog chronicling her cancertastic adventures. She loves writing, reading, viewing and heatedly discussing film, eating really good snacks, and chillin' with her cats, Julian and Tilda. She is a kind and good-natured smart-ass. She is very funny. Just ask her. Her favorite human, ever, is her daughter, Lily.