I haven’t set foot in a yoga studio in over a year. The last time I attempted a yoga class, I walked into a room full of skinny people wearing Lululemon, and felt completely out of place in my XL athletic wear from Target. I spent the entire class worrying about how awful I looked, how inflexible I was, and how everyone MUST be staring at me, and I never went back.
The last time I regularly practiced yoga was before the birth of my first child, more than 11 years ago. I did prenatal yoga two or three times a week and loved it. But then my son was born with all of his complications and challenges, and life happened, and more kids happened, and getting back to a yoga practice fell far down the priority list.
Last week, my friend Nikki, a local yoga teacher, posted on Facebook about her studio’s workshops with Dana Falsetti. I had seen Dana’s viral video a while back, and felt inspired to try yoga again, but seeing the post that she was coming to a studio less than three miles from my house is what finally got my ass back on the mat last night.
I signed up for the Restorative Yoga class because that sounded like the easiest of the three workshops being offered. I arrived early (yes, my notoriously late self showed up early) and selected a spot right across from Dana not knowing what to expect. I anxiously sat and waited for the class to begin.
Dana opened the class by sharing her story of how she came to find herself through yoga and start living an authentic life. Every word she said resonated and the tears began to come. Her message of authenticity and self-love is one I’ve heard many times, but it’s not one that I’m living.
My thoughts went back and forth between being inspired and being totally jealous because here she was with so much wisdom and confidence at 23, and here I am all jacked-up at 41. At 23, I was a mess. I had just come out of an abusive relationship. I was working an ungodly amount of hours for next to nothing. I was burned out and depressed and absolutely clueless about who I was. Meanwhile, here I am 18 years later and not much of that last sentence has changed.
After Dana’s talk, some Q&A and a few more tears, we got started with the poses for the evening. As I mentioned before, I selected the restorative yoga session because it seemed like it would be easy. And while I wasn’t stuck holding some shaky leg position for far too long or attempting a handstand, it was anything but easy for me.
The purpose of restorative yoga is to center your breath and body, aligning the physical and the mental, by practicing stillness for extended periods of time.
Stillness is not something that comes easy for my body or my mind.
As I settled into the first pose, my mind wandered from what was I going to post on Instagram about this experience, to this blog post, to wondering why I can’t quit eating carbs, and why my daughter won’t listen to me… I was all over the place.
Then I heard Dana’s voice, “If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to the mat.” Um, yeah, easier said than done.
My mind continued to wander… “I wonder if my feet smell funny to the person next to me. I should have faced the other direction. Why don’t I know what the hell I’m doing? Is she pissed that my feet are near her face? It’s crowded, so I hope she’s not pissed, but what if she is?”
We shifted to the other side for the second pose, again, the constant thought train, again, Dana’s voice, “If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to the mat.”
Ugh, it’s like she knows… okay, mind, back to the mat. “Is my mat good enough to be here? I hope it’s not falling apart. I’ve had this mat for a while. I got it for boot camp. I haven’t been to boot camp in so long. I can’t believe I stopped going. I totally suck. I want to go back, but I’m going to die when I do. I can’t go back until I can really commit. I’m not ready. But I need to go. I should go tomorrow. Wait, my mind is wandering again. WHY IS IT SO FUCKING HARD TO KEEP MY MIND FROM WANDERING?!!”
Seriously. I was pretty sure I was missing the point.
The third pose was a wall pose that was slightly comical to get into in a crowded room. So there were some giggles and laughter and side comments made that for traditional yogis were probably annoying, but for me were just what I needed to break the tension in my head. I somehow scooted my ass against the wall and got my legs up and settled into the pose. My hamstrings were stretched in a way they usually aren’t, and the stretch felt good but challenging.
And then the thoughts started again, but this time, I stopped them. I repeated in my head, “I surrender these thoughts. I surrender to this moment. I am here on my mat.”
I have no idea what prompted me to start that mantra, but it’s what came to mind and it stuck. Every time a new thought appeared in my head, I repeated, “I surrender these thoughts. I surrender to this moment. I am here on my mat.”
And I was there – in the moment. Mind and body connected. Present on my mat.
I’d love to say that some magical wisdom came to me during those moments or that I transcended to another plane and became all Zen. But it didn’t, and I didn’t. But I did feel refreshed, and that feeling along with the truth bombs Dana dropped were well worth the price of admission. I thanked Dana for inspiring me to show up, and I grabbed a schedule on my way out. I’ll be back on the mat again soon.
If you want to know more about Dana, or find a workshop near you, visit her website at danafalsetti.com.