Thursday, 22 August 2013

What happened when I combined my love for New York and my love for Yoga

I got off the train at Penn Station and exited on to the streets of New York for the first time about three years ago. It was everything I thought it would be and more. The skyscrapers were overwhelming, the people were creative, and I knew there were endless adventures and opportunities waiting to be had. It was one of those places that just felt right in my heart. I finally understood what the “I Heart New York T-shirts” were all about. It's pretty easy to fall in love with the place.

I know, I know: I'm looking at the city through the eyes of a tourist and only seeing the best of the best. I can hardly imagine how hard it could be to live there, let alone “make” it there. It's hot and cold, competitive, crowded and even a little smelly at times with soaking garbage lined up on the all the street curbs at night. But I can't help it, I love it there, and lucky for me I've been to NYC twice since my first time. Each time has been as surreal as the first. Most recently, I was there this past week from August 18 - 21.

A few months ago, I started to feel really connected to yoga in my day-to-day living. Now I am on the countdown to start my Teacher Training in less than a month, and am very much looking forward to it.

From sitting behind a computer and exploring all things related to yoga and NYC, I came across this little gem of a yoga studio called Laughing Lotus, located in the Flatiron District on 6th avenue.

The studio looked like fun, and different from what most of my experiences with yoga have been like so far, which have always been quite serious:

“Loooook inside youuurself...breeaaath deeeep...reflect on your daaay and eaaaaase into the pooose.” 

These are just some of the things that come to mind when I think about every yoga class I've been too so far. Don't get me wrong, I love those things and find it very relaxing, but yoga can be intimidating for newbies like myself, and sometimes I just want to be a total geek, have a blast and laugh! However, these are things that I haven't associated with yoga before, so I liked the sound of  Laughing Lotus. Having fun, goofing around, all the while enriching your body and soul? Yes please!

Never mind the fact that this studio was in NYC (have I mentioned that I love that place?)

I could hardly wait.

I called to about a week ahead of time to book a spot in the 5:30 p.m. Lotus Hour class. A girl answered the phone: “Thanks for calling Laughing Lotus, how may I make your day?”

Oh, I liked it already!

My vacation days went by quickly, as they always do in NYC. We did some touristy things and ate at restaurants that locals recommended. We would ask people, “Where do you go to eat?” It was great, and on top of other wonderful experiences, every day I looked forward to going to this Laughing Lotus yoga class in NYC. My two loves, combined! 

Finally, Tuesday came. It was our last day in NYC. We hung out at Rockerfeller Plaza in the morning, went to the Yankees vs. Blue Jays game in the afternoon, and then off I went to find my laughing lotus.

I was pretty successful at getting there, all things considered. Once I got off the train, that I took from the Bronx, I used my shyness-charm to find exactly where the studio was.

I was on the right street, but the studio was no-where to be found. There were no signs anywhere, and no distinctive yogis that I could discreetly follow and hopefully end up in the right place. 

Thankfully, I mustered up the nerve to graciously ask a helpful young lady working at Sports Authority if she knew of a near-by yoga studio. 

“Yes,” she said, “Around the corner. There is a glass over-hang and there should be a doorman working there.” 

Ah, perfect, thank you. It was now 5:15 and I was running out of time.

I found the right door and hustled up three flights of stairs. When I turned the corner, I saw this, and immediately knew I was in the right place:

I made it in time. Class was going to start right away.

Unfamiliar with the studio and the classroom set-up, I accidentally laid my mat right at the front of the class, next to the teacher. Yikes. As a newbie-yogi and in unfamiliar territory, it was not the spot I was going for. Not to mention the hot sun was beaming in through the window directly on my already-sweaty face, which was warm from running from the Bronx to and throughout the Flat Iron District to get to this class on time. But oh well, the class was already full, and besides, I was in NY. Who cares?

The class started with some chanting songs, accompanied by the teacher playing a mini-keyboard/organ type thing. I think it was similar to what Schroeder from the Peanuts cartoons would have played. OK, I thought, here we go.

Let's keep in mind that I live in Grande Prairie. The most exotic thing I have seen and heard at the local studio here includes chanting “Shanti” three times in a row and someone in class NOT wearing Lululemon. So I was loving this. I came to this class because I wanted something different, and to me, it was exactly that.

The walls were painted a bright lavender. The curtains were pink and purple. The routines were different, the teacher was attentive, and I did my best. It was challenging because it was new.

And it was hot. It was about +30 degrees that day in NYC. It was so hot in the city that Kody and I had to move back a few rows at the ball game to get out of the blazing sun. Whenever I chat with someone in NYC about where in Canada I'm from, I just say that where I live is not far from Alaska. That helps to put things into perceptive for them.

And then, somewhere near the end of the class, I started crying. I don't think anyone noticed though. My tears were mixing in with the sweat dripping down my face and the shoulder sobs could have easily been a part of my “deeeeep breeaathing.”

It had hit me. I was finally here, in NYC, doing yoga at a local studio. It had been all I've wanted for the last few months. I wish I could do this every day, but knew there was a chance I would never get to do it again. I had to talk myself down in the moment. Its OK, I thought, the class isn't over yet. This is amazing. Enjoy it.

I've only cried once before in a yoga class - it was in Calgary about four years ago, and a single tear rolled down my face. Still to this day I don't exactly know why that happened, but this time it was different. 

I cried, a lot. I cried because I was so happy. I cried because I was so sad I couldn't do it again tomorrow. I cried for the girl I saw earlier that day who lost her leg. I cried for my boyfriend who had stayed at Yankee stadium to watch the second game of the double hitter the Jays were playing that day. I don't know why I cried for him, I'm sure he was perfectly happy there, but I did anyway. And then I cried for me again, because I was so happy, and felt so in love with life that I never wanted that moment to end.

This is partly why I am writing about it, so I can remember it forever.


I now feel more courageous and confident in my practice. I also feel more confident with myself and where I'm at in life. I know that I really can have it all and do all things I want to. It just takes some hard work, planning, and dedication. Maybe, hopefully, some day I'll return to the Laughing Lotus. Or maybe I won't. But I did it and I loved it, and wouldn't change a thing. 

I think this is the best feeling a person can have, and something to strive for everyday. 

If there is something you really want to do, or something that you know somewhere deep down in your gut that you have to do, then do it. 
Follow your heart and enjoy every moment. This is your life, and you only get one. 
Thanks for reading.