By Jennie Williford
Pranayama Yoga Studio
It is that time of year again … the excitement of the kids being back in school, the start of an impending new year, the changes that fall brings to life and nature. But what might you be up to? When was the last time you started something with that mix of nervousness and excitement, possibly even that odd combination of wonderful possibility and utter dread? Of course, most of us may not choose to go back to school, but don’t you sometimes yearn for the feeling of “being a kid again” — seeing the world in all its possibilities and wonder? If so, then maybe give yoga a try.
September brings the start of school and it is also National Yoga Month. Like going back to school or feeling that first crisp breeze of fall, starting a practice of yoga can bring on a similar excitement and anticipation. At first, you may be thrown off a bit, feeling awkward and apprehensive about starting something new and facing the possibility of change. But from that awkward entrance into an unknown, yoga ultimately gives you the space and the tools to explore and learn about your own self, bringing a fresh perspective on the world and your place in it.
As most students prepare in advance for starting or going back to school, the same goes for yoga. Most people don’t show up in a yoga class just out of the blue. They have heard experiences from their friends, seen ads and read magazine articles, maybe even practiced with a video or two. This preparation may get them through the studio door, but may not be enough to instill complete confidence. Many walk in wondering … am I dressed OK? did I bring the right supplies? Will I fit in? Impressions and input from the outer world are usually brought into yoga, but very soon, you are asked to let that all go, to start anew.
Learning yoga is attending the school of the self. Stepping into your first class, you encounter new vocabulary, new ways of moving — and even unfamiliar props. You live in your body, but when you really start paying attention to it, you may feel uncomfortable finding out what actually works and what does not — balance is off, muscles are weak and stiff. The usual habits of judgment, comparison and self-consciousness come to the surface, wondering what the others in the class are doing, thinking, feeling.
But class after class, the teacher asks you to look within, and yoga challenges you to get beyond your usual mental and physical habits. As you move with conscious awareness and begin to connect to your own breath, the outer world (including other people in the class) becomes fuzzy. Your inner world becomes clearer, leaving behind the self-consciousness, the worry and the judging. The practice of yoga becomes your very own journey of self-exploration toward your own full potential.
Through the school of yoga you will discover a lifetime of subjects for investigation at every level of your being. Just as you might observe the outer change of seasons, you come to equally observe the changes within your self. With yoga you can be present and attentive to the place you are now, leaving behind the anxiety and discontent that comes from looking outward and/or forward for “the next best thing.”
Being present mentally and physically through the practice of yoga brings recognition that every moment is a new beginning. The full potential that accompanies the start of anything new is within us with every breath. We don’t have to wait for school to start, for fall to come or a New Year to begin. Now is always the time for change, now is always the time to start again, and now that school is back in session, now is time for yoga, too!
For more information about Pranayama Yoga Studio, visit www.yogarockford.com or call (815) 968-9642.
From the Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2013, issue