Saturday, February 9, 2013

Location, Getting Personal, and Yoga

A group yoga practice is not only a physical work out. It is a dynamic weaving of unseen, but strongly felt energies within the four walls. It is interesting to observe and listen to yogis as they enter the room before practice. It is relentlessly stated to check the ego at the door during your practice; however, no one said anything about before the practice. 

 Most of us are creatures of habit. In yoga, we manifest greater strength, balance and flexibility with habitual practice. These changes are relatively slow at first. Once a solid foundation and understanding of yoga is in place, then courage to take it to the next personal level emerges. The location within the room reveals another facet. Being blessed to have a solid group of regulars mixed with a few new yogis each class, I have noticed a pattern of placement. Location and who is next to you can and does make a difference in a practice. Just like a yoga practice, it reflects personal preferences.

The regulars who have their preferred square of the neighborhood show up earlier than others to get the mat in place. It could be in the back of the room, next to the wall, or in the front row. The key is that they get the same spot. Stake your spot enough and others will know it is your spot and reserve it for you.There are strategic reasons for keeping the same place. Perhaps it is comforting and feels more personal to practice in the same place among a lot of strangers. Perhaps it gives space for a quick exit if desired. Perhaps it keeps the anticipation of the unexpected moves in a practice balanced with the familiarity of being in a routine place. It is very personal...after all, your location will be your home for that time.

Then, you have the group that go straight to the back of the room. It is the first to fill up.  Often, it is those who want others to be oblivious of their moves. That is common for new people to yoga until the confidence gets stronger. Or, just like in school, you can have a group of folks who like to hang together. In the back of the room, you can get away with a little quiet chit chat and giggling. Trust me, the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are a group of 4 women that have been coming to my class for three years. They are strong, smart, funny and kind. One would assume that with the roles they play in life professionally, they would be in the front of the class. Instead, they enjoy the back of the room. Even their placement of selves in the row has not changed. They make great neighbors. It is a very personal sharing of good vibes.

The group in the front don't want to miss anything. Struggling to see or hear among the surrounding yogis is eliminated by being front and center. I would not be surprised if seating was a choice in school, the front row was the place usually picked by these folks. Personally,  I sit in the front of the class as a yoga student and did it when I was in school. Focus was easier to maintain by minimizing distractions. But, the two other students who plant themselves upfront admit that they are hard of hearing and being in the front eliminates that challenge. Plus, there is something about having direct eye contact and being within an arm's reach of who is leading you.

Those that reside in the middle are a mixed group. The ones that mark their spot early are always by the wall. Smart move for stability. Never have I seen someone place their mat squarely in the middle unless it was the last option available. Kind of like airplane seating. The middle is the last to fill for the poor folks who didn't get a ticket early enough. But, they make themselves comfortable in the place they found and get over it.(But, a mental note is made to come a bit earlier next time.)

Couples stay together. Friends stay together. Regulars stay together. Late comers blend in. Everyone becomes silent as the door closes. We close our eyes, consciously breathe, and set our intentions. Collectively, it is a beautiful dance we practice together. The intermingling of  the new with the old...feeling grounded in your chosen or destined place...and being a good neighbor to those around you is a fascinating and beautiful practice to observe.

Once the door is closed and the practice begins, the ego gets the message to take a back seat. A group practices together, yet individually at the same time. The blending of unspoken personalities, location, and united good intentions makes time fly as we enjoy the experience of self discovery together.Who ever thought "location, location, location" just might apply to a yoga class?






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