It’s Tuesday or Wednesday or Friday or Sunday and I’m in one of my very favorite places and spaces. The Yoga Studio at Lifetime Fitness. I hit that door and I know without a shadow of a doubt something is going to happen…change…I will find clarity or hear a message that I need to hear at that exact moment in time.
It happens all the time. In every single yoga class I attend.
Just when I least expect it, the instructor says something amazing that I could have heard a million times before and yet, this time it sinks into my cells. Into my brain. Into my heart. And I never know when it’s going to happen. But it does. Constantly and continuously.
Breathing easier in the yoga studio is a truth for me. I can be turned upside down, challenging myself in a tripod pose or simply flowing and I know I am where I am supposed to be.
It was in THIS yoga studio that I found my Warrior. In those beginning classes during a particularly rough time, I needed Warrior One and Warrior Two. Over time Warrior Two became one of my very favorite poses….for so many reasons. It represented strength like no other pose and it made me feel STRONG. The way you can settle into this pose and look forward while stretching enables me to stand in my center. I still love Warrior Two.
I also love tree pose and often take pictures of myself on cliff edges and beaches in tree pose. I stretch my limbs to the sky while rooting myself in my life. Nothing feels quite the same.
As a yogi….I was late to yoga. I didn’t really get it-couldn’t understand what was expected of me and most likely wasn’t in the right place. A few years ago Lifetime Fitness opened their Yoga Studios to all students as part of our membership and I was determined to give it another try.
Everyone who practiced yoga enjoyed it. I was curious.
And in this way…I found myself in the studio that would often offer me a safe haven in a very rough storm.
Those first classes were challenging, fun, hot and not what I expected. I wanted to learn as much as I could. I drank the Kool-Aid because I felt the lightness. In this studio, I felt myself grieving, growing, adapting, learning and trusting again.
I kept coming back day after day, week after week, slowly understanding the Yoga way of life, listening, hearing and breathing. Always breathing.
It just so happened that this occurred at the same time I was going through an incredibly hard time in my life. A challenging time that I thought I might not survive. Yoga calmed me. Yoga helped me hear myself. Yoga taught me to center myself.
One morning after a class that I spent weeping, and when I say weeping, I mean weeping in the way that the tears wouldn’t stop I wondered what was going on. I’m not normally a crier, I usually cry when I’m frustrated-or when watching a sappy commercial or This is Us. But on this day….the tears seeped out of my eyes, down my face, sideways, into my ears and I just let it go. Pretty sure it wasn’t what we saw in the movies. And yet, I just went with the feeling. Obviously something deeper was happening and my body and heart knew what it needed.
Seeking out Ashley Gormley, the Group Fitness director I shyly told her what had happened. Thinking, she is going to think I’m completely crazy! She smiled kindly and warmly as she said, “Oh that happens all the time! We get very vulnerable in yoga and in the studio and with what is going on. Completely normal.”
Every now and again during that horrible time I found myself crying in yoga. Nobody ever said anything or commented. I imagine many others found themselves in the same position.
I continued going back. Because the more I went, the better I felt. I was growing, evolving and changing and the Yoga Studio was and is a safe place for this to happen. It is darkened although there are windows. It is quiet, although often we hear the weights being dropped and once or twice we heard water aerobics. It is still. Perhaps one of the only places in my world where I allow myself to BE still. It is a respected room-no shoes. No cell phones. And for this hour that is more than okay.
In this Yoga Studio, I have found courage, fearlessness, love and comradery, laughter and balance. In this Yoga Studio, I figured out how to take care of myself.
Interestingly enough, I’ve attended two Yoga Under the Stars programs and though we meet on the pool deck, the feelings are the same. We are quiet, we practice together and last summer, Jennifer Cooper had us all reach out and hold arms in a gesture of supporting our Yoga community. That brought me to tears as I was with my Yoga Tribe and we had been through the hardships of life together. How fortunate that yoga has brought into my world some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met and grateful to call friend.
My favorite Yogi’s welcome us in kindly and openly with their giant smiles and “good morning” wishes. They know each of us and take the time to prepare the room and then they prepare us. They work hard and it shows. They share their life lessons with us and through this they extend their love and kindness. I’ve heard about unconditional love, balancing a life out of balance; I’ve been encouraged to find my edge both mentally and physically. I’ve heard about rooting my feet into the earth and allowing my palms to face downward to alleviate anxiety.
And always, always always there is understanding that we are all where we are. In that moment, in that day. On that mat. For that time.
I’m gonna make it after all. In the yoga room and when I take my practice off the mat, out into my daily life.
(note: this was written about the West County Club-I have not had the opportunity to try the new club, however, I imagine it will be just as amazing)
About the Author:
Pam Wilson is a writer, licensed Master Social Worker and Book Coach.
Her Book Coaching with Davis Creative began in January 2017; she has successfully many coached authors to publication. She is also the Editor of the INNERgized Anthology published in October 2017, the Hear Her Now Anthology published in October 2018 as well as this anthology.
Pam is the Writing Instructor for the Cancer Support Community of St. Louis.
Pam writes a blog about her oh-so-interesting life where she puts her unique spin on everyday happenings and the journey of being human, the funny and the frustrating. She loves to inspire others to live their lives with joy, dance, kindness, fun and play. You can read this blog at: https://youcallitchaosicallitlife.wordpress.com
She is the creator/facilitator of Write ON! a community-based writing program that empowers participants to find their voice and inspire change in the world. See the work at: https://www.facebook.com/WriteONstlouis/ This program has been successfully implemented in middle school, high school, home-school and community groups.
For fifteen years she wrote the S.O.S. From Suburbia column for “St. Louis Moms and Dads,” part of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The columns were about real life written in a relatable, humorous way. Find them at: http://www.stltoday. com/lifestyles/parenting. She has written free-lance pieces that appeared in St. Louis Magazine/Family edition both on-line and in print. She has written the “Off the Beaten Path” column for SwimBikeRun St. Louis chronicling her adventures in out of the ordinary exercise options.
In 2012, she self-published SOS from Suburbia, a compilation of humorous essays which supported her belief that a well-told, entertaining story about individuality and family was welcome and needed in our common community. She put the real back into reality with commentary on everyday life.
She says yes to most things and then figures out how to make it happen.
Pam has raised two amazing kids over the last twenty two years. She loves to bike, read, travel, dance and hike with her dog. One day she hopes to live on or near a beach. Pam earned a Masters of Social Work from Washington University and B.S. in Child and Family development from University of Missouri at Columbia.