Every year, instead of making New Years resolutions, I identify new activities to try that will help me improve and maintain my health, meet new people, and take me out of my routine. This is how I discovered yoga.
Before I began practising yoga four years ago, I didn’t give much thought to what seemed to me like a hippy dippy pastime. But after years of various people I respect suggesting that I try yoga, I added it to Ali’s 2013 Self Improvement Plan, thus launching my ‘personal yoga journey’ and discovering why this ancient Hindu practice has been practised for thousands of years.
Boiled down to its essential, yoga, for me, is a form of self-healing, both on a mental and physical level. It has nothing to do with flexibility and everything to do with aligning your spine, building strength through ones breath, and developing one’s patience and focus.
It is hard work, and it never gets easier, but the benefits keep coming.
Since taking up yoga I have ‘grown’ one inch in height and I no longer have any evidence of varicose veins. With just months away from turning 47, my arms are toned, you can bounce a dime off my butt, and my skin glows. More importantly, my practice helps me maintain my focus and productivity, and it has developed my capacity for being patient and kind to others, even when they don’t deserve it.
I owe much of my present physical and mental health to yoga, and I have all the gratitude in the world to The Yoga Lounge and its Grand Master Yogi, Susan.
I remember my first class like it was yesterday. While waiting for my class to begin I sat watching a class in progress and was unconvinced. How could lying around hugging pillows and slowly moving from one end of a mat to the other be referred to as fitness? I entered the class with the intention of checking off my ´yeah, I tried yoga and now I can move on and get back to my real programming’. Over the next hour and a half I almost passed out, and then needed to be peeled out of a pose as the rest of the class kindly and quietly smiled (they knew exactly what I was experiencing). At the end of the class Susan asked me how I was feeling, and it was then that I realised I felt bloody awesome.
On weeks that go off the rails and I’m feeling unhinged I reflect on what has changed. Chances are it’s not that my week was any more stressful than any other, and every chance that I hadn’t made it to yoga.
As soon as you step into TYL you leave all of your stuff at the door. You turn your phone off, get your mat, greet your fellow yogis and begin. It’s a positive space unlike any other. Every time Blog TO publishes ´TO’s Best Yoga Studios’ I anxiously check to see if TYL is listed; on the one hand worried that my favourite studio will soon be discovered by the masses, thus ruining the vibe I love so much, while on the other feeling disdain upon discovering that the author failed to include Toronto’s best yoga studio, hands down: The Yoga Lounge.
Last week a new guy came to the studio for the first time. As Susan was explaining to him to take it easy, and to take breaks as needed, I could tell he was thinking “I got this. I’m fit. This will be a cake walk. What’s all the fuss about…” Throughout the class you could hear his gasps as he struggled and collapsed out of various poses, even once expressing in a high pitched squeal how uncomfortable he was. I looked over at him and smiled as Susan casually explained “We all are our hon”. I’ve seen him twice since. Like me, he is now a convert to the power and peace that comes with the practice of yoga under the instruction of Susan and all of her well trained instructors.
TYL has a new and permanent home on Queen E (at Parliament), making it a welcome addition to my neighbourhood, Moss Park.