So, about a year and a half ago, I got up the courage to go to a beginner yoga class. For most people, this is not CNN breaking news, but for me, with back problems since senior year of college, that have forced me to quit jobs and spend a lot of my 20’s-40’s in physical therapy, not to mention pain, it was a little like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. NO PARACHUTE.
The thing is, I was infatuated with yoga for a long time. The beautiful poses, the control, grace and meditative quality of the practice seemed like a perfect meal for the body.
But to do yoga, seemed on the provocative to terrifying scale. I pictured myself getting stuck in a pose like a cartoon character and having to live in that pose for the rest of my life. (Yes, welcome to my head.) But when my trainer (yes, if you can, you have a trainer when you have a bad back so that you can keep moving around the world and having a life) moved to California, I needed to find a way to keep my back healthy. So I mustered up my courage, heard about a beginner yoga class, and stuck my big toe in the Iyengar pool.
Enter Sonia, a 27-year-old yoga teacher with an infectious and gigantic smile, who studied yoga in India, was getting her masters in culinary arts at B.U. (check out her blog Bake with Sonia) who loves to travel, cook, and could not have a warmer or more lovely personality.
At first, I was stiff and scared (the opposite of Sonia, whose poses look like a poem) and moved slowly and rigidly. But as the classes piled up, Sonia’s nurturing allowed me to feel more able-bodied. Each week, I became more still in my tree pose, more balanced in my triangle, more composed in the pre-cursor poses to getting up there in a shoulder stand. And when I would leave class, I would leave with a calm, and a little more confidence in a body who has not allowed me to do the physical things I have wanted to do.
Pretty soon, I realized I was actually doing something physical that I’d wanted to do for decades–I was doing fucking yoga!
But as all things must end (and I don’t know why they must), it was announced a few weeks ago that Sonia was moving to be with her fiance in D.C. I cried. In the class. I almost left because really who wants to sob during downward dog.
See, Sonia gave me something that has been hard won in my life–a way to be physical that wouldn’t hurt my body, and in fact, helped it, along with settling my busy–SQUIRREL–mind. This, for me, is like a potato chip without calories.
I had coffee with Sonia yesterday to say goodbye. I so much wanted her to know what her teaching did for me and how much I would miss her. When you have chronic problems with your body, the people who can show you a path to wellness become mythic Goddesses. You are more than grateful when you find one.
Love you, Sonia. Thank you from the bottom of my asana!