I do a fair amount of yoga, and have for many years, but I’m by no means an expert or a teacher. Every time I do a class, I learn something new.
But earlier this month, I was suddenly inspired to guide myself through some yoga. No trendy class, no studio, no sequence guide, no video.
I was in Montana, staying in a log cabin. It was the off-season, so there was no one around and it was quiet — just me and the mountains. It was late afternoon, and it was still warm and sunny, with a slightly cool breeze that reminds you that winter will be there in just a few weeks. And the view, the VIEW was … well, at the risk of sounding all dramatic … truly inspiring. In my infinite originality, I of course had the urge to do some sun salutations.
So, since I had packed my travel mat, and was too afraid of a bear encounter to go on a run (yup, seriously …), I decided to do some yoga on the front deck. But then I remembered there was no WiFi. I mean, how can I possibly engage in an ancient practice without the Internet?
Once I came to my senses, I just hit the mat and told myself I’d wing it for a few minutes. I started doing some sun salutations and settled into my breathing. Then I did a few sequences I liked (and miraculously remembered) from a recent class. And then something funny happened. I kind of just fell into a few poses on my own. Because I didn’t have anyone telling me what to do next, I found myself tuning into my body in a really focused way. And my body was telling me that my hips were tight from driving. So I ended up doing a bunch of hip-opening sequences.
The other thing I noticed was my breathing. Alone with only the whisper of a gentle breeze, I was more aware than ever of the repetitive ocean-like sound of air moving in and out through my nose. It was incredibly calming.
I rounded out my “practice” with a bunch of static standing poses, because I just wanted to stare at the view (who wouldn’t want to do tree pose surrounded by all those actual trees)? And I ended with several seated poses to stretch and twist, because it felt good.
After a brief savasana, I sat up and looked at my watch. I couldn’t believe it, but 50 minutes had passed.
If you had asked me before if I could lead myself in a 50-minute yoga practice, I’d probably say no way. But this accidental foray into self-guided yoga changed my tune, and I’ve since enjoyed it several times (although not in Montana, but rather on my deck and in my bedroom in San Francisco).
I’ll probably always enjoy the community and direction I get in a great class, but it’s nice to know that a different experience is available to me when I want it. An experience that may not be technically “correct,” but that is personal form of moving meditation.