a twenty second conversation
Old ways won't open new doors. ~unknown
Most people are surprised to learn that I used to hate yoga. I remember one Christmas in college I was gifted (by a non-practitioner) one of those yoga sets that used to be really popular. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? It came with a stretchy pilates strap, a pamphlet, and a DVD, and you could always see them on the end caps or bargain shelves at Barnes and Noble. I tried to find a link, but I think they've gone the way of answering machines. Anyway, it was given to me because I’m what some people call granola, and I “should love it because granola people love yoga!” It sat unopened, buried under a stack of old text books in my apartment until I graduated. Fast forward four years to the day it was raining ice outside (yes, that’s actually a thing in Oklahoma) and I wasn’t in the mood to be cold, wet, and pelleted in the face, I walked into my first yoga class. It. Was. AWFUL. Whyyyyy didn’t I choose the face-pelleting??? Let me clarify quickly…. the teacher was lovely and, had it been ten years into the future, I’d have appreciated the class as lovely, too. BUT it was soooooooo slow, and for this tireless, mind-running-wild, requires-a-good-sweat girl, nothing said miserable waste of time like diligently being still. I vividly remember being asked to lie down for savasana. Why are we being asked to nap???? I didn’t like them as a kid, and my disdain for them has only grown over the years! I vividly remember her hands on my shoulders and whispering “Relax. Don’t hold your breath.. just relax.” over and over. And over. And I vividly remember thinking “fuck off because this is as relaxed as I get” to this sweet woman (who is now a friend of mine, by the way). Now, because I have enough courtliness to a) keep my exceptionally uncourtly thoughts to myself, and 2) not walk out, I lay there wishing for death. Okay, so that’s a little dramatic, but I did lay there pleading with whatever is out there that this ridiculous post-non-workout nap end as quickly as possible. It lasted at least twenty-eight minutes. Or, just five. Who knows, really? I didn’t go back.
Hop ahead almost a decade, and I’m - quite reluctantly, it should be noted - back on a yoga mat. I won’t go into the how that happened because you can read that here. Skip forward another two years, and I’m sitting cross-legged on a bolster in Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) with twenty other students eagerly soaking up all of the asana and philosophy we could handle like little yogi sponges. One year later, I was teaching “for fun” while still writing for work. A year and a half or so after that, I realized that I was still teaching for fun, but “fun” now meant full time and writing just happened when it did. In other words, never. And I was mostly okay with that. Or, at least I was figuring out how to be mostly okay with that; and, just when I was ALMOST there, I was called over to a car window and casually offered a position that enables me to teach my students, lead a truly astonishing team of smart, creative, and willing people, and continue to put words on paper and share them. It was a twenty-second conversation that took decades to have.
You might wonder why I’m sharing these particular words with you… The idea to do so started last week after class when a few of my students were chatting as they bundled up to head home. As I walked by the huddle, one of them turned to me and asked “Adi, did you always love yoga?” “Oh, god no!” I said, “but I was in a position that forced me to choose to be open to trying it again, and now, here I am.” Most were utterly surprised - both that I didn’t love yoga immediately because now it’s my life, and that I admitted it. I love that it’s my story, though, because it helps people like the twenty-something me relate to the forty-something me.
It’s January, and I’m seeing a lot of new faces in the studios, so I think I’m really writing this piece for you newcomers. If you find yourself forced into a “nap” (sweaty or not) wishing for death or hoping that IF death doesn’t actually save you, the lights will come on quickly so you can wave your namasté as you run out the door never to return, try to change the direction of your thoughts. Be a little more open than I was, whether it’s yoga or something else. You never know. You might just end up having a twenty-second conversation that will give you everything you need.