"This class is for beginners, right?" I asked the lovely and limber instructor, who's name I didn't catch.
She said something like this was my practice and I should honor wherever I was and do as much or as little as felt right. Sounded good to me.
There were four other women in the dim studio. We started with an exercise to clear the mind, then moved to some poses and series of movements that seemed incredibly basic to start with but turned into pure torture after about 20 seconds. As I breathed deeply through my nose trying to maintain my archer pose, I decided that yoga had one thing in common with yesterday's run. The pain makes any wandering of attention impossible.
The intense poses and breathing exercises were perhaps a little different than I'd experienced before, but I'm such a novice I wasn't sure. Just as the hour was winding up, the class took a different turn. We relaxed on our backs on our mats, pulling up blankets to warm our cooling bodies. The instructor, let's call her Bree, came around and put little pillows over our eyes. Then we just lay there, in silence, breathing.
It was so relaxing I felt like I was floating. You guys, I was meditating! The only thing that ruined my bliss was the tiny worry that we were running late and my parking meter would expire. But there was still much more to come.
Bree explained that we were going to do a very beautiful healing meditation, in honor of the people of Japan and the devastation that occurred there. She pressed a button and a ethereal song began - Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung. My classmates, with their enviable breath control, sang along in one tuneful exhale. I did my best, after an internal giggle over the "so hung" part. The room resonated with our voices. It was moving and powerful. By the time we were finished, several of us were in tears. I may have shed one or two myself.
By now, with the meditating and singing and praying and emoting, I was pretty sure I was not in a Intro to Yoga class at all. When I came home, feeling as clean and clear as a whistle, I rechecked the studio schedule online. Sure enough, I had joined a Kundalini yoga class, which ran at the same time as Yoga Basics. Kundalini is described as one of the more spiritual types of yoga that appeals to those who are up for both mental and physical challenges.
Given my purpose for the month of March, I can't help but think I ended up exactly where I was meant to be this morning. And if my chanting in any tiny way helped the people of Japan cope with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, I am grateful. Namaste.
(The mantra we sung was very similar to the one in the video, below.)