Monday, June 13, 2011

The Bohemian Sloth

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  ~Victor Frankl

I first began taking Yoga classes on a bit of a dare. My friend, Tammie, begged me to go with her. I was an aerobics junkie at the time. I loved going to step aerobics and even wore the (now foolish looking) leotards that Jane Fonda made so popular. At a dinner party at Tammie's beautiful Victorian home, she urged me to come with her. She wasn't sure if she even liked Yoga herself and had only been a few times. A long distance runner, Tammie was looking for something to help her stretch out and relax. She'd found a teacher she really liked, but the Yoga itself presented more of a challenge for her; like me, Tam had a hard time turning off her thoughts and mind. So with her lovingly finagling me to come and see what I thought (and promising me that we could laugh together), I committed I'd join her for the Monday morning class. We'd drop the children off at the day care at the health club so they'd all be together. We even toasted our new adventure with an excellent bottle of red wine.

By Monday, I had no idea why I'd agreed to go. I looked in my drawers and in my closet and had absolutely nothing suitable for a Yoga class. I knew my pink paisley leotards would be inappropriate, as would running shorts. With two young children needing a quick breakfast before we left, I had very little time to think about wardrobe. I literally threw on a pair of  navy blue leggings and a white Polo and hoped it would all be okay. I kicked on a pair of Sperry Topsiders, threw on an L.L Bean fleece and called it good. It was raining. I was dragging two exhausted, cranky preschoolers out of the door before 8 am and I was regretting my decision to go. All in all, the gloomy weather fit my mood.

Once the kids greeted their friends at day care, once my own friend had helped me find a mat and a blanket, and once I felt slightly settled in place, I met the teacher. She was lovely and so down to Earth I couldn't help but adore her immediately. She put my fears at ease and urged me to take 'my practice at my own pace' and just to do the asanas that made me feel comfortable. If I didn't like something, I didn't have to do it. This wasn't a competition. I remember letting out a sigh of relief as the class began.

Little did I know that that one class would change the course of my life. I began to loosen up for the first time ever...both physically and mentally. I became stronger than I had ever been, in body, mind and spirit. I began seeing the links between thoughts and reality. I opened my very closed mind to an entirely new way of experiencing the world. It was, in short, miraculous. After fighting cancer the first time, I became a yoga instructor. It was a great challenge for me because I had to further expand my practice and knowledge beyond the styles of yoga with which I was comfortable. In a sense, it was as if I'd began anew, as there is a great difference between being a student and becoming a teacher. My voracious appetite for knowledge was a boon as I memorized endless terms in Hindi and studied every muscle group in the body.

My moniker actually was given to me, at this time, by an obnoxious master teacher whose class became the bane of my existence. I couldn't stand his preening, self-aggrandizing manner, the way he berated and degraded his students or the inferior way, I'd felt, he explained the poses. Because I needed to become proficient in all forms of yoga before earning my R.Y.T. (Registered Yoga Instructor), I was stuck with Master Contemptible Crabby Pants for at least three months. When Yogi Beastly made one too many objectionable remarks to me, I snapped at him. I reminded him that a good teacher instructs and helps students to perfect a lesson and that a bad teacher belittles to massage his own ego. He erupted in a stream of nasty comments to me, which ended with "You're nothing but a silly little preppy yogini." I smiled. I honestly liked that. Why? It was the first time I'd ever heard him refer to me as a Yogini. 

And so a name was born. What the Gloating Guru bestowed as an insult, I took to heart as a badge of honor.

After 7 years of my own teaching students to appreciate and love Yoga, I now find myself at an impasse. I am, thankfully, able to take classes once again. But, I can no longer work as I once had teaching Yoga. My latest bout of cancer rested in my lower abdominal muscles, necessitating their removal along with the tumor. My strength and ability simply isn't what it once was. Additionally, my sense of style has evolved over the years. I can't imagine wearing a Polo anymore. Long flowing dresses are more my style, as well as chunky necklaces and an arm full of bracelets. My energy level has been quite low since the surgery. I now feel more like The Bohemian Sloth than I do the Preppy Yogini. I'm in search of my next adventure. Wishing for a life I once had is an understandable sentiment. But, I can't allow myself to wallow in regret. I need to move forward towards an unknown destination.

I just will have exchanged my Penny Loafers for Turquoise laden sandals for the walk.

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