Your Moment of Om

Until this morning, I hadn’t attended a real, live yoga class in about two months.

The suburban gym that I switched to when I switched jobs heavily caters their class offerings to the only people who can afford to go there: Old people looking for a legitimate reason to go to the gym so they can sit in the luxurious whirlpool. They don’t ashtanga, vinyassa, or power yoga… they want corpse yoga.

I only have time to seek out other yoga classes on the weekends, and since skiing takes precedence over yoga, I haven’t gone to a studio since before Christmas. In order to keep my hips open and my shoulders strong, I’ve been relying on my Yoga DVD library, which is dominated by the famed instructor Shiva Rea, a tall blond woman whose can do poses that look like special effects. Of course, the majority of her practices are accessible to beginning-to-intermediate yoginis, and Shiva demonstrates everything with unerring clarity and a spacy smile on her serene face. I couldn’t hold a conversation with someone who looked so internally blissed out, but learning yoga from them is entirely suitable.

But this morning, I dragged myself out into the cool sunshine and headed to a yoga class in Cambridge. The class was advertised as Ashtanga Yoga, though the instructor didn’t follow the series of poses that typify that style; rather, we did slow sequences with many gentle variations. Which was fine by me, because I realized that 2-3 months of yoga DVDs really spoiled me. I regularly skip segments that I’m not in the mood for (balances, inversions) and focus mainly on Sun Salutations and standing poses. In other words, I do the poses that I’m good at.

So it was jarring to be in a yoga class and forced to do poses that I may skip or that Shiva Rea doesn’t do. As I struggled to hold a standing split, I remembered what I liked about yoga in the first place: it challenged and enlivened my focus. It put my body in positions it never had to be in. And like many things in life, yoga requires constant practice. In fact, all it requires is constant practice. So, with all due respect to my Shiva Rea DVDs, the fact is… the revelation will not be televised.

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