It's official. I'm addicted to yoga. I've been practicing since college, but I haven't really been hooked until recently.
Last December, I started going to a hot yoga studio in West Hollywood. I would practice about five times each week. Some days I'd even go twice. Just this month, I began working at a hot yoga studio in Beverly Hills. I've only been working there for two weeks, but I already feel a change coming over the way I think about yoga and my capacity to grow.
When I first dabbled in yoga, I was very insecure. I'd spend the majority of the class stuck in my head about how I wasn't flexible or strong enough. I would constantly compare myself to the more advanced yogis in the class. If you've taken a yoga class, you'll know that this type of ruminating is the exact opposite of what should take place during a practice. I couldn't help it though. I'd see these incredibly fit men and women effortlessly hopping into headstands or crow poses. Or even more of a confidence-killer: I'd see women twice my age with perfectly toned arms and abs. Even with the post-workout endorphins flowing, I'd leave yoga classes feeling weak and flabby.
Lately, my head's been filled with fewer debilitating, unhealthy thoughts during class. To be fair, I think a major part of that is because I haven't been wearing contact lenses to yoga anymore. I pop my glasses on once in a while if the instructor is guiding us through a pose I've never done, but for the most part, yoga class is a hot and sweaty blur.
During my first semi-blind yoga class, I felt very self-conscious and lost. I desperately wanted to know how I was keeping up in relation to the others in the class. I knew the poses inside and out, but was still uncomfortable with not being able to judge the state of my love handles. About 3/4 of the way through the class, however, I felt myself starting to let go of that intense yearning to see, compare, and judge. I focused inward--not in a ruminating, self-deprecating way, but in a curious and almost child-like way. My mat started to feel like a far-away plane where I alone existed, gently floating through time and space.
From that day forward, I awkwardly reveled in my blurry yoga classes. They still make me feel a little bit uneasy because I can't see the other people in the class. If I'm not staring at people's great bodies out of the corner of my shavasana, I'm usually clocking the famous people in attendance. But on those days when I'd go back to wearing contacts, I'd come out of practice feeling unfulfilled and low from an hour of creeping on that former contestant of America's Next Top Model with the chiseled abs.
Three weeks ago, I ran out of contacts which meant that I had no choice but to embrace the blur in yoga classes. And it's been great. I think a certain vest-wearing rap mogul was in my class today, but I'm not sure because a) I couldn't see more than six inches past my nose and b) I was more concerned with enjoying my practice, completely free of star- and navel-gazing.