March 24, 2014

Showing up (is the Hardest Part). ~ Wayne Silverman


I almost didn’t go.

Lying in bed this morning, all I really wanted to do (or so I thought at the time) was lay in bed some more.

I’m not a morning person. But, I knew there was yoga happening this morning.

I had been looking up classes and events all week in anticipation of the moment when I would decide where I needed to go.

To get out there and meet people, to see for myself what’s happening in the local yoga community. Get out of the house and wake up! I looked at my calendar, and sure enough, there were two events happening a short drive away…but I wasn’t dressed yet.

I thought of a question I had been asking many of the yoga teachers I’ve practiced with: “What is the difference between yoga and contortionism, what makes yoga different from physical exercise, and why is yoga more “spiritual” than Pilates or gymnastics or ballet barre?”

As I dressed, I decided where I wanted to go, finished pulling on my yoga pants, shaved, found a clean T-shirt, put on a sweatshirt, then a coat, then heavy socks, slid into my shoes and was out the door. By this point, the class had already started, and I was going be late.

My inner voice said, “go anyway.”

The controlling part of me, who hates being late for anything, hesitated…the inner voice answered, “Go anyway, even if you are late! And go now!”

I started the car and drove, drove, drove!

Inner voice said: “No speeding, come on, you’re going to yoga…be blissful.

I pulled into the parking lot of the Whole Foods Market where there is a free public yoga class. I asked the first store employee I encountered, “Where…?”

Noticing my mat over my shoulder, he answered before I could finish: “Where is the yoga class? I’ll take you there. We keep moving the class location because more people keep coming. It was in the front but now it’s in the back.”

We went to the back of the store, past the refrigerated room and into a conference room with a sign that said,  “Quiet Yoga Class.”

Controlling me said: “See, you’re late.”

As it turned out, I wasn’t late.

The room was packed with people sprawled out in various prone positions.

“Three fingers between the mats please, we need to fit more in. Thank you,” said the teacher, whose voice filled the space as everyone shifted themselves closer together.

I located an empty spot on the floor to unroll my mat, turning my attention inwards and beginning to actively listen as the class began.

The flow that morning wasn’t particularly hard, but it felt different. There were many references to community and sharing and working together. We were packed tightly together, which made it impossible to not put a foot on a neighbor’s head or a hand on a neighbor’s arm.


I would later find out that this class wasn’t only about yoga postures and moving through the flow, it was also about being together and working together. Three quarters through the class, we broke off into partner yoga, then small group work. Nothing complex, but rather working together and having fun. We ended in savasana and then sat cross-legged and chanted three OMs to close.

I left feeling energized. The yoga routine had been pretty simple, and it was not a sweaty workout, but more of a group event. I felt energized, not from the flow, but from being part of the group. I felt myself gaining energy from everyone in the room (and there were maybe 60 of us in there). The group energy grew from our act of being together and acknowledging that togetherness.

I left after chatting with a few of my classmates, and I felt convinced as I headed out the door that I had chosen exactly the right place to be this morning.

I had gone there looking for the secret about what makes yoga different from just exercising. I found my answer not in the practice of a complicated posture, but in the basic human connection that brings people together to practice and to be.


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Editorial Assistant: Kathryn Muyskens/ Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photos: elephant journal archives

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