It’s not often that I get to observe a yoga class. Usually, I’m right in the thick of it, teaching (which I adore) or taking class from another. So, it’s a rarity for me to step back and watch one in action. On Saturday, Eugene taught our July Yoga in the Park class, and I decided to walk around, adjust students, and observe for the entire 60 minutes or so. And, what I felt? Extreme gratitude. Loving contentment. Pure joy.
You see, for so long this gal was on her own with yoga/business dreams swirling around in her head. And, Eugene? Y’all...Eugene used to think yoga was too feminine, that real men only drank protein shakes and grunted it out lifting heavy weights at the gym. And, that’s cool (he still likes shakes and lifting weights), but now? He’s a freaking yoga teacher, too! He’s teaching you! He’s teaching me. And, he was my biggest supporter/number one fan/shoulder to cry on as we’ve worked so hard to build a community centered around relationships, physical and mental well-being, yogic philosophy, laughter, and...dark chocolates.
And, let’s talk about you. You breathe life into these yoga dreams! Your presence and curiosities are a huge part of what brings me to this work everyday. You get up at 8:30 a.m. to practice with us outside, rain or shine. You come into the studio (sometimes bleary eyed) at 6:30 a.m. You’re there in the evening ready to practice, to say hello to a new neighbor, and to learn. Not to just go through a bunch of poses to get firmer abs or whatever, but to learn how to create flexibility in the mind and the body.
And, it makes me immensely grateful. On the days when I’m super frustrated, feel uninspired, exhausted, or something not-so-fun happens, I really try to practice this gratitude and contentment. It works.
There are a lot of things that can go awry or set us off track in our days. I’ve read that when we practice gratitude and contentment for the moment, then there is no way for annoyance or anger to creep in. The two emotions cannot be expressed at once. That’s pretty profound, don’t you think? Our brains will not allow us to feel contentment at the same time as anger. We cannot feel gratitude and frustration at the very same time. We can choose our emotions.
You may have seen some new t-shirts in the studio that say “Santosha.” Santosha is one of the niyamas of yoga, meaning contentment, choosing to keep a positive attitude during the difficult times. It means knowing that we have all we need in this moment. That even with suffering and pain, we can count at least a few things to be grateful for (even if it is the soft sheets on your bed or being able to buy yourself a fancy latte). Santosha means being content with what we have now, and moving forward from there...not waiting for happiness to arrive.
That’s what I felt this past Saturday. Yoga is pure love to me. Pure joy. And, to share it with others, to watch a yoga skeptic turn into a teacher, to see our yoga community grow in celebration of each other and mental/physical/spiritual well-being...well, that’s something to remember and express sincere gratitude for. I hope you’ll take Santosha with you off of your mats this week, remembering you always have a choice. You can choose how to feel. You can choose your emotions. And, from there? You can create your reality.
Missing you already!