“Sometimes my yoga is just a walk on the beach or reading a good book.” I distinctly remember Annie Carpenter uttering this sentence during my teacher training at Yoga Works in 2003. The words struck a chord in that moment, but I don’t think I fully understood what she meant until just recently. It was almost as if my mind identified it as advice that I would later need desperately.
After over a decade of teaching yoga, I have to admit that my own yoga practice doesn’t always feel as good as it used to, either mentally or physically. Don’t get me wrong~ I still love how strong and loosey-goosey I feel when I practice, and it still offers me the calm and focus I need to get through my day as a kind, patient, and productive person. And, I love my students. The problem is that, even after all of these years, I still find it challenging to turn off my “teacher brain” and enjoy the practice for what it is. I find myself thinking, “Hey, I liked that sequence I just came up with, so maybe I’ll teach that tomorrow,” and such. I don’t seem to have any boundaries between practicing for myself and practicing for my students.
Enter Fit On. The spin place? Yes. I know—it’s an unlikely pair, spinning and me. Our relationship, in fact, began shakily many years ago at my old gym. I took two classes. During the first one, the instructor screamed at me to add more tension to my bike. My wimpy little quadriceps screamed right back, “Noooooooooo!!!” The second class would have been a brilliant SNL sketch. The bike seats back then were really uncomfortable (or maybe my butt was just bonier?), so a lot of folks wore those silly bike shorts with the padded crotches. I didn’t have any, so I took a cue from that old Quilted Northern commercial and padded my underpants with a huge wad of toilet paper. (A quick apology to my hubby here, who thinks I should never admit this story publicly.) As I looked down 15 minutes into class, the strobe light in the dimly lit spinning room illuminated the bright white “snow” that was falling out of my shorts and landing gracefully all over the red carpet surrounding my bike. What’s any self-respecting girl to do? I oh-so-maturely fled the scene and never returned to spin class, of course!
So, last year, while complaining to a friend that I missed that “high” I used to get from running, you can imagine my reaction to her solution, “You’ve got to try Fit On!!” Sure, friend, I’ll get right on that. Just as soon as pigs fly. Luckily, this particular friend has two middle names: persistence and sales. I took a class. And I LOVED it. The teacher was happy. The other students were woot-wooting. The music was loud and thumping and so wonderfully cheesy. I pedaled at my own pace, with very little tension on my wheel that first day (ha! so there!). I soon realized that spinning had become my Yoga~ or at least the perfect complement to it. I still need my quiet time, and my breathing and stretching and meditation. But when I get on that bike, I am completely absorbed in the moment, soaking up all of the positive energy in the room, pedaling away from all of my burdens, and loving the music. Those 50 minutes are completely my own, and teacher brain, and wife brain, and friend brain will just have to wait.
There is a phrase painted on the wall at the Fit On studio: “The Power of Shared Energy”. When I first noticed it, I had to smile. Over a decade ago, my yoga practice really began to blossom when I attended Seane Corn’s packed Sunday morning classes at Yoga Works on Main Street. The shared energy in that room was electric, and supportive, and it made me feel like I was part of something larger than that space. I get a little taste of that again~ a feeling I have really missed~ when I get on that spin bike, and no one could be more surprised about that than me.
So, thank you, Fit On teachers, and Annie Carpenter, for reminding me that my yoga practice doesn’t always have to be about rolling out the mat and stringing together a sequence of poses. Yoga is everywhere. Even in the most unlikely places.