My legs are all tingly and my arms are shaky as I sit here typing at a coffee shop named after a Phoebe Buffay song. There’s sitar music playing in the background and I’m not sure how I feel about it. (I think I like it, but maybe that’s just two cappuccinos worth of caffeine pulsing through me?)
Yesterday during my Ashtanga practice, my teacher told me about a new Wednesday morning Mysore-style class being held at NoDa yoga in Charlotte. The instructor was amazing, he said, and encouraged me to try it out. So at 8 AM (okay, 8:15, I’m trying to cure myself of my chronic lateness) I sat outside the tiny studio tucked away in a residential neighborhood, looking for a sign of life inside the shuttered windows.
I saw the glimmer of votive candles inside and saw what looked like a hand waving at me, so I grabbed my mat and ventured to the door. NoDa yoga is the type of studio where you walk in, and you’re in the studio: no lobby, no cubbies, just a large room with an adjacent bathroom and a desk in the corner. No mirrors – I love this – and beautiful art on the walls. The two women already inside – the instructor, Lisa, and another woman, Laura – were friendly and welcoming and inviting. I instantly felt at home. Two more women showed up within the next 20 minutes, both instructors in Charlote whom I have taken class with before and whose practices I admire. I parked my mat next to the gas-logs fireplace flickering in the wall and smiled with anticipation.
As we recited the opening chant together, I knew I was a part of something special. There’s something so powerful and beautiful about a small group of women coming together and sharing something that they all value. I can’t put my finger on why it affected me so much, and all of these words I’m trying to use seem so silly and insufficient. But it was lovely, and meaningful, and lighthearted at the same time. I felt like part of a little club. There was focus, and hard work, and chatter, and laughter, and encouragement. There were swear words and groans and discussions about the true meaning of yoga. Lisa, the instructor, was so kind and informative – she has been practicing Ashtanga since before I was born – and I felt so blessed to practice with her. She was the kind of teacher who, by sharing their own struggles and faults, inspires even more admiration from her students.
If there’s any point to what I’m writing right now, it’s this: sometimes the most beautiful experiences in life are the little ones, the ones we have to seek out, the ones that are tucked away behind leafy trees and shuttered doors. They’re not the marathons, but rather the leisurely walks that are unexpected but ever-so-needed because the light is just right and you never realized how much you love being outside. They’re not the crazy poses, but the deep exhales, the generous assists from a teacher, the friendships built through yoga, the smiles between new acquaintances. I’m so grateful for my practice this morning. And that’s all that I can think of to say.