Yoga Class, my Asylum

In the early days of my yoga asana (pose) practice, I shifted from someone who never work out to a gym regular. Attending one to two classes every other day, it felt like I just could not have enough of them.

Despite this Yoga enthusiasm, somehow I did not practice at home.

Not at all.

Back then, I could have said that it was because I was still such a beginner that I did not know how to do it without instructions, and I thought that was the reason. But later I reckoned that I was actually in love with “yoga classes”, and not only “yoga” per se because amusingly, simply being in the class suffices for joy and excitement. So I figured there must be something about these classes that turns something on. But what is it?

Some people, if not most, go through their days with companies. I suppose that is why humans are recognised as social beings. So they have to have someone accompanying them when they go for lunch, movies, shopping, and – going to Yoga classes, especially if you are new to the practice, or to the community. Guess what, I am exactly not that kind of person, which does not mean I do not enjoy company. There are just things that I can do just fine, if not better, without company. Attending yoga classes is one of them.

When I first started attending the classes, by myself, I did not know anyone in the class, I did not know the teacher, and so I relaxed into being myself. That felt really good.

Photo by Melissa Mai at Pixbay

This reminds me of a story by Kahlil Gibran about a young man in an insane asylum that stands out from other inmates because he behaves normally. When asked why he was in the asylum, he spoke of how his father wanted him to be a brilliant lawyer like himself, his uncle hoped he would follow him by owning a large emporium, his mother wanted him to be like her beloved father, his sister set her husband before him as an example of the successful man, his brother tried to train him up to be a fine athlete like himself. The young man decided to enter the asylum because there at least, he can be himself.

I do not think this story only talks about family’s expectation. Rather, it is about man’s expectation towards one another, the way we human expect from one another of things we think is right, pleasant and good. Gibran said it in profound truth, “None of them looked at me as one should look at a man, but as if they were looking in a mirror.” I am grateful to find that I only had to go to yoga class to be myself instead of an insane asylum.

So there I was, enjoying myself with every pose that I was supposed to do, utterly carefree of what other people are doing nor did I care whether they care how I performed the poses. I was a beginner, and it is good to be stupid and carefree about it.

This was until people who regularly attend the classes started noticing me as another regular and teachers began spotting my presence too. That marked the end of my invisibility that has made the sessions so enjoyable. While it is enjoyable knowing these people and making friends with some of them, I sometimes miss this anonymity. It is not that now I care how others are doing in the class nor do I care whether they care how I am doing, being invisible just feels good in a different way. Being comfortable with looking silly is very peaceful.

I wish it was as easy to turn any place into an Asylum. And so it is our every day practice to make that happen. When we find Asylum anywhere we are, there is peace and joy everywhere.