When I first started doing yoga at the age of 16 in my hometown on Cape Cod, there were no yoga studios. They didn’t exist yet. The concept of a commercial space dedicated explicitly to yoga was still a new one anywhere (yes, I am that old). Today, from my home in Boston, I can walk out my door and reach more yoga studios than Starbuck’s locations. That’s quite an evolution for modern yoga.
My first “yoga studios” on the Cape were a converted firehouse in Woods Hole and the local recreation center in Falmouth, where I once played indoor youth soccer. My soccer career was short-lived, since I was the only girl on the team, and the boys never passed to me. Soccer is a lot less fun when you chase your teammates endlessly but never touch the ball. Maybe that’s why I ended up being a natural at track.
Yoga felt natural, too, and today, there are a lot more places to do it– on the Cape and around the world. This weekend, I folded a little work into my Thanksgiving time-off with family by teaching a master class at Power Yoga of Cape Cod. The two studios, owned by my friend Jill Abraham, are recent additions (the Dennisport location opened this summer), but they feel like they’ve been there much longer. They feel like home to me, not far from my hometown.
I started the class with one of my favorite questions to ask yoga students: how do you want to feel at the end? It’s one I ask myself before beginning anything worth anything: a yoga class, race, creative endeavor, you name it. I believe this type of awareness and intention is nothing short of life-changing because if you know how you want to feel, you can act accordingly. If you know you want to feel relaxed after yoga, you can’t peep your cell phone during class (yes, I see you). If you want to feel joyful, you can’t contort and compete with the yogi next to you. If you want clarity, you have to meditate. You have to make focusing on one breath at a time your first, second, third, and fourth priority. Your asana can come 5th. The music (if there is any) comes 79th. Clothes, temperature in the room, the woman who moans obnoxiously in the front row become yoga vapor. Sure, they exist, but you have bigger things on which to focus your attention.
Each Cape Cod yogi shared his/her name and how he/she wanted to feel walking out of class two-hours later. The first thought that comes to mind is best in this exercise, and their first thoughts included: light, empowered, inspired, clear, peaceful, weightless (I offered to pick up this yogi at some point during class), invigorated, and enlightened.
One of my favorite moments occurred when a bright woman named Lucie shared her desire to feel light, which was convenient since the Latin root luc means light.
“Doesn’t your name already mean light?” I asked.
“She can go now… her work is done!” I joked to the group.
We hadn’t done a single pose yet, but already our enlightened lesson was there for the taking. All of us are light, all the time, as if it was our very own name. Yoga does not manufacture or create this feeling or any other feeling. It simply reminds us that it’s there, within us, all along. The practice is to remove the obstacles that cause us to forget or separate from this light. When we forget how to act, the job is to remember.
Thank you, Lucie, for enlightening us. Thank you, Power Yoga of Cape Cod for having me. Happy holidays, everyone. Be light. Remember, you are light… and enlightened, clear, peaceful, empowered, weightless, invigorated, and inspired already.