My mat and I have been taking space in the front row of classes ever since we started practicing yoga. On rare occasions, like being new to a class or late for a class or attending a really crowded class, we sometimes land somewhere in the middle of things. But we really like being in the front with only the instructor and the wall in front of us.
Lately, though, there seems to be a sense of constriction in this front parking space. While there are no distractions at the front of the room, there’s also no “room” at the front of the room; no real sense of spaciousness and, sometimes, no sense of connection with the rest of the class. This sensation seemed to arise a couple of weeks ago when one of my teachers began asking us to open our eyes to “take in the room and be present to where you are.” Suddenly, a comfortable location that seemed to be exactly what I needed for my practice felt uncomfortable. It wasn’t a bad feeling, it wasn’t a good feeling; it was just a different feeling. And it was asking to be explored.
So, curious about creating more physical space for me and my mat and practicing from a different perspective, I’ve been setting up either at or near the rear of the room in my classes for the past week. Here’s what’s happened so far:
Last Friday my friend Carla, who knows my preference for the front of the room, laughed and said “welcome to the back of the room, you’ll like it back here” when she saw me set down at the wall near her. Then, oddly enough, the instructor came over wanting to find out WHY I was at the back of the room. She thought something was wrong or that I had to leave early. I told her that I simply wanted to look at things from a new perspective and we both laughed.
At this juncture I have to digress and say that, between Carla’s fun welcome and the instructor’s sweet concern, there I was again in awe that I’d been noticed and was being taken care of. Once again, although I might think it’s no big deal that I’m there and “it’s just what I do,” I’m NOT as invisible or as small as I make myself. So, once again, the learning is that our presence is noticed … and makes a difference every day. A new perspective from a new perspective.
But wait, there’s more. I really enjoyed being at the back of the room for Friday’s Iyengar class and I think it will become my place of choice … until it isn’t. We spend a lot of time at the wall so not having to try and fit in somewhere made this new parking space less of a hassle and a little more “practical.” Beyond the practicality of the move lies the spiritual perspective. The big news is that being in the back of the room widened the scope of my eyes and, in doing so, made me feel more physically spacious and connected to the environment as well.
Monday at the rear of the ISHTA class (the catalyst of my experiment) was just wonderful. Wide eyed and spacious, being at the back of the room enabled me to observe Douglass as he connected with all of us. I was able to take in the whole room and its energy. Tuesday’s Iyengar class in a smaller room felt similar and the confirming data convinced me that the back of the room was definitely the place to be. That is … until today.
(Review: “data” “convinced” “defiinitely” hmmm …. seems that “If you meet the Buddah, kill him” seems to work at this moment.)
Today, Wednesday … back in the wonderful ISHTA class with Douglass. Mat and I settled near the windows and near the rear of the room but not quite as far back as the wall. I’m already in the zone when class begins with a short centering meditation in sukasana (easy seat) and a gentle warm up. We flow over to our hands and knees to continue the spinal warm up with up cat and down cat. Suddenly, as I arch to do my first up cat, like Christopher Reeve being catapulted out of the past when he finds a current coin in his pocket in the movie “Somewhere in Time,” I’m snatched (forgive me but, pun intended) from my zen zone by a set of lacy black panties staring at me through a pair of see through tights on the lower half of the woman in front of me. OH CRAP … I FORGOT ABOUT HER! UGH!!!
On rare occasions when I was in the front, we’d face the side of the room or the back of the room while practicing and I would see her in those tights with a thong and her derriere fully visible underneath. Horrible. Regular tights? Seriously?!? That become see through when you bend over? Maybe she doesn’t know? Maybe she knows and doesn’t care? She’s from England … is that what they do there? What, no Lululemon? Very distracting … and also the perfect timing for truly practicing “yoga.”
As any yogi will tell you, yoga isn’t really only about the exercise, it’s much bigger than that. The union of mind, body and spirit, practicing yoga provides the opportunity to observe how you move through your life as you create, hold and transition through the series of poses on your mat. In becoming the witness of your habitual patterns on the mat, you can see where they apply in life and then find the means for taking ground toward a place of equanimity; allowance, calmness, mental stillness. Mining for new perspectives.
Let’s get back to the learning for today. So there I am in my new parking space in class … behind the lacy behind. Wait … yesterday’s post was focused on a behind as well … I hope this is the end of that trend. Anyway, I think you get that the see through tights and black lace panties really bugged me. Disgusting. Why would anyone wear those things to yoga class? Now remember, while I’m thinking those thoughts, I’m also doing my sun salutations, down dogs, up dogs, utkatasana, warriors, breathing, etc. But here’s the thing, keeping in mind that everyone we meet is a teacher, my thoughts started to shift in a different direction.
I became curious: “Why am I being so judgmental? Where is this coming from? Why now? It doesn’t really matter what she’s wearing. Who cares? She always seems to have some painful back and neck issues and she’s here practicing just like you. And, you know what, wearing sweet, sexy underwear sometimes just makes you feel really good.”
And as my judgment started to soften another new perspective, of the “what am I learning about how I move through life” kind floated up into my consciousness:
* YOUR lacy panties are tucked away and out of sight. Maybe it’s time to change their place in the room and dig them out of the corner of the drawer *