It was 1996 and I was visiting a good friend in LA. I was living in Lake Tahoe, snowboarding and selling real estate and generally causing panic in the minds of my mother and father. Why had they sent me to Vanderbilt again?
Anyway, Ian had become very interested in yoga and suggested we hit a class as he said he thought I’d like it. Now, I’m from Alabama, so I knew very little about anything except the knowledge I’d picked up in college. So, I assumed we’d be sitting in a semi-circle Om-ing, maybe with some incense or something. I explained my disinterest in this activity and couldn’t we just go to the beach? I mean, the only exercise I had growing up was riding horses and drinking beer. And now, even though I loved mountain biking, hiking and snowboarding… well, let’s just say yoga sounded lame to me. After a bit of cajoling and a promise of the rest of the day at the beach, I donned my sweat pants and old t-shirt and we left. Yes, sweatpants. Needless to say, I looked amazing (read: ridiculous), but I didn’t even know the half of it yet.
We arrive and I’m handed a “rental mat,” (read: gross, smelly, shredded, thin mat- I have to pay for this thing?) and told to find a spot. Find a spot? Where? After a brief discussion in which I told Ian I needed some of Alice’s magic shrinking potion to fit in this room, he pointed to a space approximately 4 inches by 1 foot and told me to “squeeze in.” Ah, ok… Somehow I made it with .5 inch boundary separating my mat from two huge men on either side, a diminutive dancer in front, and MEG RYAN behind me. I am not exaggerating about the mat layout or about Meg Ryan. In fact, she is the only reason I did not run screaming from all the moving, already sweating, LA fabulous bodies. And did I mention she was NOT WEARING SWEATPANTS or a grubby t-shirt. In fact, this was in the days where she still looked like adorable Meg Ryan and – hold on- what is she doing? OMG, she is doing splits and class has not even started yet. Must again.resist.urge.to.run.screaming.with.inadequacy.from.room.
Thank God. Class is starting. What the hell is he saying? It’s a language I’ve never heard. Wait, what are you all doing? Oh.my.God.I.am.fish.out.of.water. I am already sweating. Why can’t I breathe out of my mouth? MUST GET AIR. Everyone is doing this push-up thing and they can do it effortlessly. I, on the other hand, am splatting to floor like frog launched from balcony. After the second one, I didn’t even try anymore. I just dropped to my knees and flopped from a lower height. Wait. Touch my toes? Are you serious? I haven’t done that in, well, ever… Woah. Warrior is hard. How long am I holding this again? Look at clock. Oh.My.God. it’s only been 1 minute. 89 minutes to go. I look wildly around the room. Everyone else looks peaceful and NOT IN SWEATPANTS. I make a deal with God that if I can get through this class, I will do all kinds of charity work and maybe even go home, go back to business school.
89 minutes later, I am a puddle on the floor. I can not feel my arms. The aforementioned sweatpants have morphed into a wet suit, and I look anything but LA fabulous. And, did I mention, I was hooked?
The next day, I could not lift my arms to wash my hair- they were simply too sore. I was sore in spots I didn’t know I had! Ian still laughs at me because even in that state of total melt down, I went back! I went back to class that very next day and I met some random girl on the beach and convinced her to come with me. I was such a convert after one practice, so sold on the power of yoga, that I was recruiting randoms from the beach to come to class too!
So, flash-forward to 2014 (almost 2015), and I am still as passionate, possibly more so, about the practice. I have traded in my sweatpants for a myriad of crazy, patterned yoga pants (I have an addiction to wild pants), but the passion is the same. I am still humbled every time I get on my mat by the intensity, both physical and mental, of the practice. And, over the last several years, I am humbled by the raw spirituality that is there in the self study of undertaking practice, day in, day out.
Come on, get your sweatpants on and join me!