I haven’t set foot in a gym for over a decade. I don’t do gyms, I don’t do gyms was the thought I had as I found out about a weekend yoga class there. With children largely at home and a husband who rarely walks through the door before 8pm, my windows of free time that match up with local yoga classes are not many.
I went ahead and pencilled in the Saturday morning vinyasa class. I kept reminding myself that I was going to a yoga class, not the gym. The class would no doubt be held in a quiet studio, yes? I pictured an abyss of serenity, away from the super-yang energy of the gym outside.
Even as I was led past dozens of cardio machines, people panting, nine TV screens screaming with different images (screaming Get Out! at me), bad dance music playing on the loud speakers, I stayed with the thought that I was heading to yoga. Even as I brushed past personal trainers and their clipboards, weights everywhere, huge lettering on the walls about goals and fitness, I focused on that hour of stillness.
As I approached the clear glass-pannelled doors of the studio, I could see it was packed. Somewhere around 30. The only place I could find for my yoga mat was by the door. I put my bag down and took a deep breath. I just want to practise yoga.
But see, the sound of that dance music didn’t go away, nor did the sight of sweaty bodies in tight gym clothes walking past the door. It was just a clear glass door between me and that super-yang energy. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine claws and more X-Men scenes were being played on a loop on a giant flatscreen – the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes in sun salute. Downward dog, cobra, tadasana, then bulging veins and extended metal claws. All to the sound of DUFDUFDUFDUF. It was quite the experience.
I looked around the class and wondered if it was just me. How can you all possibly turn inward with this stimulation?
I gave up trying and just accepted my surroundings. I glanced over at the clock at least every ten minutes. Let’s just get through this hour and I won’t have to come back again.
Then, presumably because I still hadn’t walked out, we were asked to get into groups of two or three. My inner whisper became a roar. You want us to get into a group???!! I don’t want to stand there and correct someone else’s posture. I have no interest in getting into conversation with another person about their yoga practice right now! This is MY time to spend on ME and I don’t want to hear anyone else’s voice apart from the teacher’s. This is not a group exercise!
“She doesn’t usually do this”, the lady next to me said. No, I don’t suppose she does. This little group activity was set up just for me. I should have left much sooner.
So I did. I smiled graciously, mimed thank you and walked out before the end of class.
What I realised after I stopped roaring inside was that it was yoga. There was nothing wrong with it. It’s just I was in the wrong place. It was yoga for extroverts, yoga for people who recharge on stimulation and activity and buzz. It was yoga for non-sensitive types who don’t flinch at the sight of violence on screens, who aren’t easily overwhelmed.
They were having a marvellous time of it; I wasn’t. Which is interesting, because I used to frequent that world on a regular basis in my late teens and twenties. No surprise then that I was always exhausted.
That yoga/gym experience was a reminder of who I am, how far I’ve come, how much I’ve got to know myself, but it was also an important lesson in how much I still need to honour that intuition of mine.
We all need to listen in and pay attention to those little signs in our lives, however subtle. We all need to tune in when it’s just a whisper. Whispers are kinder on our nervous systems and it makes for better flow and more ease – two things that are usually missing if we wait for life to roar ferociously at us before changing course.