Picture this; it’s your first time ever attempting hot yoga. After taking care of the payment formalities, and getting changed; you gather your necessities, open the door, and quietly enter the studio. A rush of hot air hits your body, and you swear that small beads of sweat have instantly formed on your still adjusting skin.
You find a place for your mat in the quickly-filling studio and sit down; looking around the room, trying to figure out what exactly you should be doing. Some people are lying down, completely silent and motionless with their eyes closed, while others are talking amongst themselves at intermittent volume levels; some a soft, inaudible whisper, and others louder than seems appropriate. You overhear conversations about work, the previous night’s drunken escapade, and proper asana transition techniques. Meanwhile, a few choose to express themselves through deep stretches that make you feel like you’re a human being made of solid oak.
This was my first experience with yoga, now just over two years ago. And not unlike any other first-time yogis, I was clearly overwhelmed; not even sure how to wait to start, let alone begin doing yoga. Fast forward two years, and now I’m nearly halfway through a YTT-200 program; amazed by the transformative journey that I have embarked upon.
One of the most astonishing things I’ve learned is how out of sync I was with my body, and it wasn’t until after spending a good amount of time practicing yoga that I became conscious of this. The first thing which opened my awareness to the lack of synchronization between my mind and body was how difficult I found it to simply move with my breath. Struggling with the breath is an obstacle that every yogi initially faces, but learns to master, if given enough time and attention.
All of this was put in to perspective for me when I was taking an incredibly relaxing tea tree oil bath. I decided to submerge myself in the water to the point where my ears were under water, but my face still remained above. Silence. The world around me was muted and all I could here was the sound of my own body; the sound of my heart pushing the blood through my veins and in to every nook. It was at that exact moment that I realized how far I had come.
I then began to breathe deeply, evoking ujjayi pranayama, or deep ocean-sounding breath, and attempted to find a discernible pattern where my heart and breath met in agreement. It took a few minutes, but I finally found that place where my heart and breath became perfectly synchronized. It was an Aha! moment for me: a perfect example of self-discovery on my beautiful yogic journey.
I invite you to try this exercise. See if you can find that place where your heart and breath align, and pay particular attention to how it makes you feel. Share with me what you find. I’m eager to listen.