January 30, 2012

Grandma’s Advice: Leave that Yoga Class. ~ Lindsay Friedman

shanon wise

After a long week of school, work and publishing my own articles to elephant journal as a new intern, I confronted my first mental writing block. I sat at my computer editing articles, thinking of how I can create an original piece of my own.

My roommate walked in the door at 5:50 p.m. and said, “Let’s go to yoga, but we have to leave in 10”. I declined, knowing how much homework I had, let alone a pitch to deliver to the elephant crew in the morning. Five minutes later, I reconsidered and we were off.

As we arrived to the yoga studio, we found out that our favorite instructor could not make it and had someone else fill in for her. My roommate Rachel and I were disappointed as we hit the mats, after rushing to make it to class on time.

The relatively new yogi began the class by telling us that her grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday on Friday. She asked her grandmother if she had any pearls of wisdom and her grandmother said, “I have no advice. I learned to not give people advice.” The instructor then said, “So everyone, I have no advice for you. Now on to downward dog.”

Rachel and I immediately looked at each other, trying to fathom the yogi’s intention as we questioned why we even showed up to class.

I came to yoga that night hoping for inspiration and clarity, but my mind was clouded by the tone she set for our time on the mats. Was it that she was not prepared for class and it was the easiest thing to say? Did she want us to guide ourselves from within? What was her intention for the class?

Rachel (who is a yoga teacher) and I desperately tried to enjoy this class. The teacher would say, “We will now go to humble warrior pose. Hold it as you smile. Be gentle and soft, but focused.” I didn’t get it.  For every pose she would advise us how to do the pose for about one long minute. Her advice bothered me. She began the class by telling us she had nothing to offer us, then she couldn’t stop offering advice. Or was I just a tad bitter that my favorite teacher did not show up?

I kept peering at Rachel under my arms while in downward dog. We would make faces at each other or would go into child’s pose to avoid having to continue our flow to the teacher’s voice.

Rachel mouthed to me, “Let’s just leave. I want to go” about a dozen times.  I would say, “No we can’t leave. I’m scared to leave.” We went back and fourth for about five minutes, until I caved. I couldn’t believe I was about to ditch the last half of class –– which is so not proper yoga class etiquette.

Martin Gommel

The voice of my grandmother –– who meditates daily and attends her weekly pilates classes –– popped into my mind. She always advises me to listen to my MBS –– mind, body and soul. I went to yoga to find an inner voice and I could not leave unsatisfied. My mind told me to endure the remainder of the class and take it for what it is worth. My body was indecisive. My soul told me to follow my intuition and follow some real advice.

When we were instructed to get on our backs for core strengthening, we saw it was our opportunity to leave without causing a scene. I sat up and pretended I was feeling dizzy. I felt like I needed a better excuse than, ‘I can’t take another second of being in here.’ It was just a little unfortunate that my mat was up front facing the mirrors and next to my teacher. As I folded my mat she sat up with a puzzled look. I motioned that I was feeling sick and dodged straight for the door.

As the door shut we laughed with a rush of adrenalin. How rude of us… But suddenly my mind was clear.

              Listen to my mind, body and soul.

The constant mental searching for something to pitch to the elephant crew, the time spent sitting on my computer reading interesting stories and playing on Stumbleupon.com was just the opposite of what I need to be doing. What I needed was to relax and be mindful to what is around me. What I needed was to recognize that a story does not need to be some momentous event, but just a refreshing moment of listening to your MBS.

Thanks, Grandma.


Lindsay Friedman is a senior studying environmental science and sustainable development at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is also an intern at elephant journal and has a part time job at The Fitter. She is a true Chicagoan turned mountain girl. Follow her on twitter, Laine0315.

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