Something wonderful happened to me.
A few weeks ago, I decided to try a new yoga class – Flow & Meditation – and it was the best medicine.
I arrived at my regular yoga studio a few minutes early and the instructor asked me if I had ever taken this particular class before. I said no, and he told me the class consists of:
- 45 minutes of vigorous vinyasa yoga exercises
- 20 minutes of guided meditation
- 10 minute reflective writing activity
My first thought was wait, really?! There’s a writing prompt? And my second thought was, this is great. This is going to feel like pre-school for adults: Recess/yoga, naptime/meditation, reflection time.
I went into the room where several students were already stretching. I rolled out my mat, fluffed my towel, and positioned my water bottle so it would be both out of the way and within reach. I did a few warm up poses and then rested on my back, listened to the music, and waited for the class to begin.
45 minutes of Yoga
The yoga was perfect. I was worried that the pace would be too vigorous, but it wasn’t, and our instructor always encouraged us to listen to our own bodies and take a break anytime that we wanted to. We did some strength, flexibility, and balance exercises. It was challenging enough and just the right amount of time for me to feel like I had a good workout without over-exerting myself.
20 minutes of guided meditation
We were encouraged to sit or lie down and feel comfortable and still on our mats. I’ve tried to meditate a few times before. The first time was during a group exercise as a Resident Advisor and I got to meditate while eating a piece of chocolate! I also attended a couple guided meditation classes at the gym while I was a university student. Lay on the floor and listen to a story instead of run on the track? So relaxing. I enjoyed those experiences, but I wasn’t sure I was actually meditating in those classes.
In this case, our instructor dimmed the lights and then he read a piece which encouraged us to relax each part of our bodies: the tops of our feet, the bottom of our feet, our ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, core, …all the way up to our eyebrows. Then, when I felt completely relaxed and still – almost asleep but still awake – he read a guided meditation where I imagined I was floating on a boat, to a perfect island, where everything was gentle and happy. There was a point where we each received a message. We imagined what the message was on our own and for me, it was something I really needed to hear, I think.
Then we just got to lay on the mat in silence for about 5 minutes. Some people fell asleep. Our instructor reminded us to, “be still” and somehow, Learn to Be Still by the Eagles popped into my head and I couldn’t get it out. I’m a new meditator I guess.
Overall, it was glorious.
I know there are a lot of health benefits to meditation: it lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and ultimately can help you develop compassion and forgiveness. Sometimes it’s hard to turn my mind off. I’ll race through task-based thoughts: Did I remember to send that email at work? Should I call a friend I’m worried about? Do I need to run the dishwasher? After meditating, it seemed more natural to slowly work through my thoughts, and I did generally feel less anxious and more at peace. I thought having a guided meditation right after an intense yoga class would be the perfect combination.
After feeling all relaxed and at ease, there was a writing PROMPT. Our instructor invited us to think about ways that maybe we are too proud of ourselves and our accomplishments, and to consider ways to be more modest, basically. I’ve been holding my head pretty high about my new job, so this was a good experience for me.
For me, it was heaven. I’ve gone almost every Wednesday for the last few weeks, and it’s been a wonderful addition to my weekly routine. So far, we’ve also had writing prompts about what things we’d love to do that maybe we’ve put off before because of money, fear, etc. We also wrote about how fulfilling it is to live in a community and watch it grow and did we want to live where we were living forever? If not, what kind of place would we like to live? It made me consider where I hope Bret and I are going to be packing up and moving to in just about 9 months now.
Basically, this class is the best thing that’s happened to me in a while. It makes me focus on my own strength and health and also helps me organize my thoughts. I still think it’s kind of like pre-school for adults only in that we’d hope pre-school helps kids get their energy out and then practice patience and compassionate. We’re all kids at heart.