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Yoga Speak: Gratitude

Anne takes home gratitude from her yoga practice.

I was trying to make a late evening yoga class, and it was a bit bumpy getting there.

I am a suburbanite but have found some classes downtown and, in the evening when there is no traffic, I can zip down there fairly quickly.

The studio is hot, the people are warm, and the energy is high. I love stepping in.

But, the other night, the road was literally blocked, and I had to take a detour.

Why am I doing this?  I asked myself.

Instead of coming up with an answer, a calmness settled in, and I turned on the radio and took the alternate route.

I arrived at the cash-only parking lot with 15 minutes to spare before realizing I had left my cash at home.

Why am I doing this? I asked myself again.

But the attendant was kind, saw my yoga mat on my back and told me about the nearby ATM, first asking if getting cash would make me late for class.

Again, a calmness settled in, and I said, No worries, I have time.

I do not know from where the evening’s calmness came, but I had apparently left the house with it. Ordinarily, I would have been frustrated by the small hiccups encountered thus far.

I finally stepped into the studio, put up my hair and laid out my mat in the front of the room. I am sort of claustrophobic, and it helps not to have the crowd in front of me. 

Shortly before the class starts, I turn around. The room is packed, mostly with college students from the nearby university.

Why am I doing this? I asked myself again.

I said to the man next to me, This room is so young! A few minutes passed before he leaned over and whispered back, You are still not as old as me! 

And with those encouraging words, the practice began.

The instructor was generous and engaging and motivating, and the practice was vigorous. At the end, that same calmness washed over me.

And now I think I finally understand about the practice creating space.

For me, and on that night in particular, the physical workout of yoga seems to create an opening inside, and I am left in Savasana, or final resting pose, with a feeling like I have been smoothed out, almost like a chalkboard with the scribbles now erased.

The instructor gave a reading while we lay there at the end, and I cannot for the life of me remember the details. I only remember that I liked hearing the words, and that they were words of kindness and support.

I just laid there at the end on my mat with an immense and unexpected gratitude. And that is what filled the space created by the practice.

Afterward, the man next to me leaned over again and said, See? You are younger now!

I am thinking he must have felt it, too!

It occurred to me that gratitude might well be like feeling younger, like opening to a time when optimism and hopefulness ruled the day.

The studio was just about empty, and so I moved my mat to the wall to practice a handstand before leaving.

I pressed my hands to the mat and lifted one leg and then another into the strongest handstand I have had in some time. I locked in my core and stretched my body upwards towards the ceiling.

And there, upside down, a calmness settled in, and I experienced that same immense and unexpected gratitude.

Shortly after, I packed it up and took that gratitude home for safekeeping.

Anne is a regular columnist at elephant journal.com. A collection of Anne’s posts can be found at YogaSpeak.blogspot.com and Facebook.com/YogaSpeak

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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