Have you been thinking about taking a yoga class? It seems to be everywhere lately. Studios are popping up in almost every town. Yoga Moms have become standard characters in commercials. Perhaps a friend has even said: “Go on and try it. You have nothing to lose.”
Don’t listen to them!
Before you buy that Groupon, you should know that you have plenty to lose! If you begin practicing yoga on a regular basis, you will probably lose things. And I’m not just talking about weight, or anxiety, or stress. You will lose those things for sure. But you could lose a lot of other things! A lot!
As you move on your mat, you’ll become more mindful of your body, and your breath. You’ll get in touch with the life force that flows through you as you sit quietly and breathe. You’ll begin to appreciate that force, that spirit, and you’ll want to take care of it off of the mat. As you start to take care of it, you will surely lose things; some things that you really love.
For example, you might lose your nighttime routine of eating an entire sleeve of Oreo cookies with a pint glass of milk at 9PM. You might lose your taste for Oreos altogether. You might quit smoking. Not because you want to quit smoking, but because you just don’t want to smoke anymore. The awareness of your breath, and how that breath feeds your spirit, makes it harder and harder to inhale those Marlboro Lights. You might find yourself drinking beer less often. When you do drink beer, you might only have one. You might even lose your taste for beer (gasp! Dare I say it?) altogether.
As you realize how your spirit is affected by the things you eat and drink, you might also see how it is affected by the people around you. So…you might lose some friends. You might find yourself moving farther and farther from the negative people in your life; people who make irrational demands on you and your time, people who refuse to change but continue to complain, people who see your self-improvement as a threat to their comfort.
Of course, there are some negative people (read family) who must remain in your life. You can’t lose them. But you just might lose your old habits, your old way of dealing with them. You might not feed into the negativity any more. You might not allow them to suck the life force out of you any more. You might maintain your calm breath, smile and simply dismiss their negative comments and emotions. You might not internalize their crap any more. Ever.
You might lose your voice. Not your speaking voice, but that little voice inside of your head. The one that says, “You can’t do that” or “You shouldn’t try that”. The voice that says, “But you have to do it this way” and “You can’t change that”. You will lose it first, for moments on your mat, then for days at a time, and then weeks…
You might lose your job. As you set intentions for yourself on your mat, and you think about things like balance, flexibility, contentment and peace, you might realize that your line of work is not in line with your true intentions. So you might find that you should be doing something else. And you might quit that lousy job.
You might lose control. You know that feeling you have, that everything should be a certain way? All the worrying and planning? Trying to keep everything neat and tidy? As you move on your mat, you might come to believe that everything is fluid, that nothing is permanent, and that control is really just a figment of your imagination. You might just learn to stop worrying, and go with the flow.
You could, eventually, lose your mind. If you are lucky, you will actually lose your entire mind. There will be moments when your mind is completely empty, perfectly quiet, perfectly still. No thoughts, no schemes, no worries, no to-do lists. Nothing. And those moments when you lose your mind are the moments when you surrender to that true spirit that flows through you on your breath. You might completely disconnect from yourself and connect to the universe. There could be moments of true joy and pure bliss. You could lose your self.
So before you take that yoga class, be warned, it may be a losing proposition.