Dripping sweat from my fingers and suffocating on the sweat dripping into my nose while upside in down-dog; its my own dying to self everyday.
It's hot yoga and it is "truly my church" as it was said by Darcy Smith, owner and founder of 11:11 Yoga in Jefferson City, Missouri.
In our medical training, we learned about the many medical benefits of Yoga: reversal of diabetes, hypertension, depression, anxiety, arthritis and much more.
And we were taught that Yoga is a Practice which means that doing yoga everyday for a few minutes is better than doing an hour of yoga every now and then.
It is a daily "dying to self". Our classes at 11:11 Yoga are led by Darcy, Mary Jo, & Erica where they each have us start with a gentle stretching out on our mats; reminding ourselves to give ourselves space; space in our heads, space in our bodies.
Then it's time to set our Sankalpa: our Intention; what is it we want to gain from our practice that day. Some of my Sankalpas have been the following: "I want to enjoy the handbags I have." "I want to be devoted to Jack" "I want to not compete with others" I want to give new people I meet the benefit of the doubt". Today's was "I want to be closer to Jesus"
Then as Darcy says, "It has been heard. Now let's put the work into it."
For the next 50 minutes, that work is done on the mat: binds, planks, flows.... all in time with our breath. It's the breath that powers me.
And It's my mind that wins over my body.
I'm reminded by Darcy to always "look at where I'm going" in my poses because where I look is where I will go.
Everything has a meaning and everything applies to life itself.
Every practice is not the same; some days I am better and some days I am not.
It doesn't matter: it just matters that I showed up on my mat to die to self.
After the work, in our Shavasana, we learn to die; it is the final relaxation; meditation. A cold wet washcloth infused with lavender essential oil is given to us which I quickly lay over my entire face and relish the refreshment of the cold water and the gentle waves of lavender; its me leaving it all on my mat. It's here as Darcy says where "we practice dying".
Then we slowly roll over to our right side and rest on our right sides as a passage is read. This posture is significant: we are embryos; born again.
A passage is read as we listen on our right sides. This is one of my favorites:
"Yoga is not...about being flexible.
Yoga is about showing up on your mat daily with no expectations of how it should go. It's about NOT believing the labels like "too injured" or "too old" and finding a new way to be the best version of yourself.
Yoga is a life-style not an exercise program although, yoga has no judgement if you only want to use the poses to exercise.
Yoga is about discovering that those crazy thoughts in your head about why you "can't" or "shouldn't" are not true.
It is about slowing down and seeking something greater than yourself.
Yoga is more than what you wear or if you can handstand.
YOGA IS THE ULTIMATE PRACTICE OF LOVE."--Kerri Verna
As we sit cross-legged, we raise our arms with our breath and gather up all the good then bring it to our 3rd Eye and there, we think of something we are grateful for.
As Darcy says, "Gratitute is about being grateful for the small things. Gratitude builds on gratitude and makes for a happy life." One time she said, "We should all be grateful for our health and that we are able to do yoga. Without our health we have nothing."
Then we take that gratitude to our heart center and we close our practice with Namaste.
\\\Darcy always says, "I swear we never age if we do yoga"\\\
As always, look with Intention