I’ve always admired people who can exercise on their own at home. They are devoted to their routines and rarely miss a day. I have at least three women friends who do this and a family member who works out almost every morning in his home gym.
It’s so self-contained and convenient. Doesn’t require special clothes, driving, money, or having to talk other human beings on those days we’d rather not.
Many times, I’ve wanted to emulate my self-disciplined friends. But living and working alone, I’ve been afraid I’ll miss the inspiration of good teaching, group energy and companionship. So, until recently I stored this idea away in my mental files.
I became less happy with my yoga studio. Not particularly friendly, lackluster teaching, more money than I can afford and too much rubbing on of oils and the slippery woo-woo philosophy. I went on a quest for another studio and discovered two things: 1) most of the classes in our beach town are heated, and 2) they are powered by 20-something, bendy toothpicks.
After almost fainting in a smelly, cave-like, “hot” yoga class, I tried a couple of outdoor classes next to a temporary trailer where our new Y is being built. A good teacher, but I had to get used to my mat slipping on fake grass and tune out the “Express Circuit” class leaping around next to us. A young woman failed to complete the leap across a big tire and landed in a heap of pain. Cell phones came out and I thought for sure we’d have paramedics, but as soon as the coaches were able to hobble her across the field, all seemed okay. My teacher had to get up, grab a clipboard and “make a report,” but then returned to finish up our class. We both commented on how yoga allows us to calm down.
One morning I was rummaging around in my office closet, and, without thinking, I pulled out my large, thick yoga mat. Not the thinner one I carry to and from class. One I used to store for $5 a month at a fancy studio, too heavy to carry, but perfect for home practice!
I lay it out on my office floor and started moving. My office is peaceful, shaded by trees that cover the windows. I’ve practiced yoga long enough – 18 years – to be able to move from one pose to another and create my own sequence. The only guiding voice I need is my own. The only music I need is the soft wind pushing the branches and leaves into the glass panes.
And I don’t lack for company. My three tabby cats, who normally lie around day and night, have suddenly decided they need yoga too. This is new! Mom sits on couch or lies on bed and we snuggle in close, but this body swinging and bending and legs swinging in air is too much! Must investigate. Must emulate. Underfoot, yes, but graceful.
To my surprise, I love the feel of their little bodies and can move with and around them. Whereas a person’s foot on my mat in a class would annoy me, these little soft paws and bellies are comforting. So far, they have mastered Sphinx (what cat could not?), Puppy (like Sphinx, but with butt in air), Half-Assed Side Plank (not unlike mine) and, of course, Savasana (the cat’s natural state, resting).I now look forward to my routine every morning. I am pleased, not just that I stretch and feel good, but that I am stretching into a new way of being – freedom to move (in my pajamas!) at my convenience. I see myself doing this for the rest of my life, even if I’m away from home.
I also found another studio, a mellow one. Instead of signing up for a membership, I bought a class pack and can go as often or as little as I want. Say once a week. Or not. Depending. (For an overly conscientious person like me, this is HUGELY freeing.)
This morning a woman brought two kittens to class in a carrier. She couldn’t leave them alone with their dog. Brother and sister, Houdini and Magic, grey and white and calico. We took turns petting them. They were quiet during class.
“Welcome to Feline Flow,” said our creative teacher.
Yes, perfect name, I thought as I settled into my mat.