Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thoughts from my first Yoga Experience: Suzanne Scholten




My first true yoga experience happened in India. I say true because the previous one was at 12 am during finals week at Northwest Missouri State where I graduated college and I used it as my study break….It was an exercise class which I remember 2 things: the male professor was good looking and the strong desire to stand on my head.

For 2 years I had a home practice from a book. Then while living in Kazakhstan, I took a month vacation and visited the yoga capital of the world, India. We arrived during the afternoon into Cooner, India it was an Ayurvedic Center surrounded by an organic tea plantation. It was beautiful, green, and warm with vibrant energy. The teachers were locals and the other visitors were mostly from London and Australia. We had missed the morning class, and since we traveled, I opted out of the afternoon class to rest thinking I will take the class before dinner.

THIS was my first YOGA experience. I wore the typical gear of tights and a tank top. I brought a water bottle, a towel, a yoga mat, and started pre-stretching before the class to ensure I was good and warm for the "advanced postures" we would be doing.

Hatha yoga has 8 limbs of yoga, and many times in India, there was no differentiation between meditation, asana, mantra, or bhakti. They would still say 'we are practicing yoga'.

Ganesha, the teacher came in and took his seat. Noticing there were 2 new people he described the alter, the ancient sound of OM and how to find ones meditation with the repetition of OM. He stated we could sit, lie down or do whatever was comfortable as sitting is quite difficult to do for 1 and a half hours, especially if one is not ready for such exertion. My ego voiced a chuckle and said, "I work out 2 hours a day, how  can sitting be difficult but oh no, what if I can't sit! What if I get this wrong?!" As I tried to listen to the beginning lecture of meditation, all I could really hear and feel was my heart beating and my breath becoming constricted. I was so nervous I was going to make a mistake. I was nervous about chanting and singing. I love listening to music but not to do myself! Flash backs of my choir days came to me when I couldn't get a note or when I was off key. I was sweating.

Then I heard Ganesha say, 'so we are going to spend the next 1.5 chanting OM. Remember be comfortable, that is most important. Feel Gods presence'. I heard this but didn't fully understand, so I listened and let myself go. I tried to feel the presence of God. Then when my back got tired I laid down  in the beautiful sound of OM, I fell asleep. After an 1.5, my teacher struck the gong and I was awakened. It was the best class I've ever had and it got me hooked. It took me several years to chant my first OM, but as you know I do it regularly now.

God Bless

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