by Veronika Kabarguina
I hate yoga, I absolutely despise it. I’m a runner, a dancer, a fighter, but I’m certainly not someone who can sit in place and hold some animalistic pose for more than four seconds. I like to move from place to place to keep up with the fact that my mind is just the same. That’s also why I have trouble staying asleep.
Doctors might tell you that it’s coffee keeping you up. Alright, what if you’ve had that choice of poison locked up in Pandora’s box for months now? Not far from submission and furious with the judgement of a licensed authority, you might come close to finding that key and living in a golden box with your preferred poison. But is ignorance really bliss?
As someone who would choose coffee over yoga any day, it surprises me today that I would rather choose physical activity over coffee any day. A year ago, I could barely run for five minutes without stopping. Yoga is still out of the question, however, yoga at Hidden Forest studio makes me believe that the activity should be named something entirely different. The first time I attended the Yoga and Candles class I was forced to participate because suffering had taken a seat inside my fast-paced mind. My mental health was at a brewing point, like it is for so many in our present society. I was always someone who found motivation in myself rather than in others, so naturally being pushed to do something I absolutely hated made me despise the first few minutes of the class even more.
A funny thing happened though. As I attempted to keep myself in Namaskarasana (the prayer squat), and tried frantically to feel comfortable in my pose, I realized that I was trying even harder to breathe. I was getting so frustrated that I could not be comfortable in this stance and I realized that it wasn’t because of the instructor, it wasn’t because of the freezing room (which believe me, turns into a sauna at the end of the class), and it certainly wasn’t because of the random clothes I had thrown on that were slightly off for the occasion.
It might take you minutes, days, weeks, or months, but eventually, you’ll begin to understand that the reason you try hard to find comfort in whatever pose that you are in is because you don’t want to give up trying to find that ideal position that makes you proud of yourself, and I’m not just talking about yoga. I’m talking about thisdance called life.
Laughing you ask: “How would yoga help me with this dance called life?”
Yoga builds your focus, your attentiveness, your motivation. While you might believe coffee, or Adderall or whatever else you choose to use is the answer to your problems, it is a solution for a few hours or maybe the entire day, but ultimately this focus is taken from a shelf in a pharmacy or supermarket. You cannot even call this your own motivation. Instead of building focus, you are building yourself a wall against inner strength.
Hidden Forest Yoga Studio tries to break this wall down. You might take a yoga class for the sole reason of improving your physical health, but in reality it provides so much more for your mental health. Even if you feel you do not want to continue with the class, personally, it motivated me in other fields such as keeping a well-thought out exercise schedule and time management in research during my third year in university.
The studio does not just provide an outlet for stress and a way to gain muscle based on what the instructor thinks is best to teach that day. The instructor gives the class options.
“What would you like to work on today?”
Hands fly up followed by similar suggestions at times and at other times an array of muscle groups are suggested. Either way, the instructor provides a dynamic combination for you to enjoy, and you forget about the morning coffee you’ve been craving all day.
“But I take these classes after work!” You might say.
Correct, but as mentioned earlier, you know that pose you are so unwilling to remain in? The awareness you gain from striving to find a perfect position in which to strain your neck and align your shoulders with your back provides you with an enlightened mind. Of course it’s much easier to find this nirvana when you are surrounded by acres of forest, a few coyotes running about (harmless but exciting to encounter), and a dimly lit studio illuminated by candles. To top it all off, at the end of each class the instructor has you lay in Shavasana, literally the corpse pose. I guess because the class has you feeling so physically accomplished that both your mind and body must be put to rest. And with that, you have fallen asleep.
Unlike regular naps which have you feeling groggy after you awake, this minutes-long nap will have you feeling refreshed and ready to use your eyes for the rest of the day.
And then you will be able to appreciate the ride back more clearly.