5 things I didn’t expect from Yoga
By Grace Krauser
Over ten months ago, Paul Bruner invited me to join him for a yoga class at 502 Power Yoga. Even with him consistently inviting me, the best I could agree to for a while was to join Paul for a class when I was “less busy.” It wasn’t until seven months ago that I was free enough to agree to practice next to Paul in my first yoga class. Until my first class with Cat Larimore, I didn’t imagine I’d ever like yoga at all.
5 things I didn’t expect from Yoga:
I am a yogi.
Yogis are simply people who practice Yoga. This may not seem profound, but considering I walked into 502PY believing that in order to qualify as a yogi, I had to be at least 3 of the following: 7% body fat, Vegan, Buddhist, semi-fluent in Sanskrit (with a minimum of 3 Sanskrit tattoos), or a pretzel. According to these expectations, I am 3 tattoos, about 5 pant sizes, some cheese and cultural barriers away from being a yogi. Little did I know, I am a yogi simply because I do Yoga. In 502PY’s diverse community, I practice Yoga with individuals who are different ages, shapes, and sizes and come from different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems – and we are all yogis.
Falling is not failure.
Balancing my body weight on one foot or two palms allows me to experience my body in a new way – even if it is just for the moment before I fall on my face. In those moments, I am able to challenge myself to grow and push past my limits. I am often reminded by 502PY teachers that when I lose balance and G(g)race, it is not a failure, but the opportunity to begin again. My most glorious falls on and off the mat have led to my most powerful breakthroughs.
Deep breaths to deep rest.
If you go to a 502PY class, you are going to be asked to “turn on your ujjayi breath,” “turn up the corners of your mouth,” and “turn off your mind.” These simple requests proved to be the most challenging cues of all. Sure, I can physically hold boat pose even if it makes my abs and thighs burn – but can I hold boat pose while continuing to breathe? I intended for yoga to be a physical practice, and never expected the opportunity to smile and practice focus, acceptance, and clarity in every pose.
As I struggled to maneuver into my first half-pigeon pose, I experienced “sensation” in my hip. With that sensation came a flood of emotions. At 502PY, the teachers like to say, “The issues are in your tissues,” and man, they aren’t lying. Through practicing, I have released ancient emotions and frustrations that I have carried in my hips over the past 24 years. I have cried, grunted, laughed all in the course of one frog pose. I never expected to develop insight to how my emotions and experiences are connected to my physical body. Yoga has helped me become aware of how diet and exercise effect my mental health, and how my stress affects my body.
Nah-I’m-a-stay & say, “Namaste.”
From day 1, 502PY has been a place where I am really seen. Eye contact, hugs, high fives, kicks, and clasped hands–human connection is vital to this community. To be honest, I never expected to be a part of a yogi community, or to embrace the tradition of saying, “Namaste.” In this busy world, obsessed with screens and social media, we so rarely get the opportunity to wholeheartedly acknowledge each other. So when class ends, I genuinely say, “Namaste” because I see and am seen.
There are many things I didn’t think would ever come from that first class with Cat, but in the past 7 months, I completed 40 Days to a Personal Revolution, joined the 502PY Assisting Team, graduated Teacher Training and now lead classes of my own. I definitely didn’t expect to grow with a community of yogis. I have uncovered my true potential and power to transform, all through the practice of yoga – the practice of breaking expectations.