We invited Elly Rotheim, longtime yoga practitioner, to share some yogic wisdom she has gleaned from her yoga practice. In this post, Elly talks about the things she “had no idea about” when she started yoga.
I had no idea when I began yoga in the ’90’s the powerful force it would have in my life. I was in a dark place after my only sister passed away when a friend suggested taking a class in a “real yoga studio.” My first aha moment was . . .yoga in a studio is different from yoga in a gym.
As I walked into the studio, the other participants graciously showed me how to setup for class. This kindness, the serenity of the studio, and the feeling of belonging hooked me on yoga.
As I began taking classes regularly, I felt changes occurring. My breath began to deepen. I could visualize oxygen filling my lungs and I was able to inhale and exhale at a slower, longer rate. From an early age, I remember my dance instructors telling me that my shoulders were locked. After several years of practicing yoga, I experienced joy at the sensation of my shoulder blades lowering down my back as I sat taller on my yoga mat.
This brings me to my second I had no idea point. The yoga teacher makes a difference inthe experience.
Just like any other relationship, I find I do my best when I feel accepted and nurtured. When you find an instructor that you “like” and feel comfortable with, it’s a match made in heaven. That’s the feeling I have experienced at Yoga from the Heart.
I recently moved into a complex that has a large gym and offers yogaclasses in a separate room. I was excited to start the yoga class as I am a bit further away from Yoga from the Heart and don’t get there as regularly as I would like. I tried not to make a quick judgment when the instructor arrived later than me, never smiled nor said a welcoming word. I continue to drop in occasionally, looking for the benefits of her teaching. I am constantly striving to get past those prickly personalities where I haven’t connected in order to remain open for whatever the class has to offer. I am grateful for this experience as it has shown me that my joy in practicing yoga lies in taking classes in a center where I feel comfortable, with an instructor who welcomes me and is genuinely happy to see me.
I had no idea that fear has kept me from so much in my life. I think back to my initial struggle in the ’80’s —whether or not to sign up for an adult yoga class at the local school gym. I had all kinds of excuses. Where is the school? How is the parking? Can my body move that way?What do I wear? It basically was the fear of not being able to do the poses that kept me from the experience. That fear kept me from yoga until the 90’s when I needed a life line.
After more time practicing, I went to a yoga retreat in Tuscany where the instructor was a very wise man. I voiced my concern about the inability to do some of the poses the “way they were supposed to be done”. He calmly replied, “You are doing your interpretation of the pose.” That perspective made great sense to me and whenever a pose is challenging, I repeat that in my head, “It’s my interpretation of the pose” and I am doing my best.
It was the fear of technology that kept me from staying in touch with an outdated phone and fear that has kept me from my passion of writing. My 2014 New Year’s Resolution was to get into the 21st century, get a smart phone (maybe it would teach me to be smart too), and start a blog. With support from friends and colleagues, and a renewed commitment to my yoga practice, I am on my way.