My first six weeks as a yogi

That first ‘om’ felt like the stupidest sound to ever come out of my mouth.

To many of us, stepping into a new environment — whether a classroom, office or yoga studio — can be scary, and I must admit that sitting cross-legged in skimpy shorts in a room full of strangers chanting mantras didn’t exactly rank high in the list of things I am comfortable with.

I quickly sensed, however, that in a yoga studio nobody gives a crap about anything happening around them. I might still mix up my happy babies and child’s poses at times, but it didn’t take me long to start feeling comfortable walking into class. People don’t judge and the atmosphere is very relaxed. Otherwise, I would not have kept at it for six weeks already.

If there is one thing I am known for, it’s consistency: when it comes to physical activity, I never see things through. Over the years, I have started tennis, sailing, running, spinning and countless other activities. I have spent more money on unused gym memberships than I care to disclose.

The gym has always been my nightmare. I just never liked it — too much repetition in the routines; too many of those horrible guttural sounds coming from people pulling weights; too many guys showing off their six-packs and comparing them with their friends (fine, the gym is not all bad).

Yoga feels different. Walking into a class is like stepping into another dimension. It’s quiet and welcoming, and everybody is trying to push the stress of their day out of their minds. Sounds heavenly, right? Well, it is.

I was drawn to yoga after a very stressful few months by the need to find something that could ground me and force me to stop thinking. I was also looking for a different type of exercise, one that aims at strengthening my body as well as my soul, rather than just bully me into getting bulging biceps.

During class, my teachers often say things like, “try this” or “if it feels comfortable, do that” or “if you can’t do this pose, don’t judge yourself… just observe”. See, that’s the only way to keep me interested. The last thing I wanted was another unforgiving context in which I feel like I have to excel and over-perform. I already have work for that, thank you very much.

I am not saying that yoga isn’t hard or that it doesn’t encourage you to push the boundaries a bit (practicing it is in fact very challenging — starting from keeping your breath steady for the entire duration of a class), but that I love the fact that its focus is on the journey, not the destination.

The way I see it, yoga is a path to self-improvement. It teaches you love, humility and acceptance. Don’t get me wrong… I still find it hard not to swear and judge myself harshly when my tree pose turns into a chopped-tree pose and I nearly fall onto my fellow yogis, but I am getting better at it.

I find the whole experience of yoga relaxing, cleansing and spiritual. I simply cherish those few minutes at the end of a challenging class when I lie down into shavasana and my head feels so light that I nearly doze off.

I have a long way to go and a lot to learn before I can call myself a real yogi, but I am enjoying the journey… and that’s all that matters.