This is a post about some amazing insights I had during Thursday evenings Yoga class. Sometimes Yoga whispers its lessons softly, and sometimes it yells. During this class, the messages I heard while on my mat were beautifully loud and clear.

During beginning meditation my teacher asked us to set an intention for the class and suggested the idea of self-love and compassion towards ourselves. I usually set an intention for my practice, although I always seem to send it out towards someone I love who is hurting or struggling in some way.  The idea of setting an intention for myself was a new concept. No big surprise there. I am sure I am not alone in putting others first. So as much as this was different and a bit uncomfortable, I listened to my teachers suggestion and set the intention for the class towards myself, my own body and for something that I have been struggling with lately, and written about, my difficulty with balance poses in class.

The class was an intermediate level vinyasa flow. This is my favorite form of Yoga and I got right into it, moving and breathing from one asana to the next.  I was totally centered in the moment and aware of my body, muscles and alignment. It was a wonderful class, until teacher moved us into the inevitable balance poses. I heard the cue and readied myself for the utter sense of failure I always feel during this part of the class.

First we moved into an eagle pose (garudasana) sequence. Although I cannot wrap my right foot around my ankle, I can accomplish this part of the pose with my left foot. And I have no trouble with the twisty arm portion of this asana. It is holding my balance in the pose for more than a breath or two that I struggle with. But I did it. I held it for the full breath count that the teacher did. I wasn’t counting so I don’t know exactly but it was probably 6 to 10 breath cycles. Inside I felt an immense sense of accomplishment and strength. The sequence then moved to several variations of tree pose (vrksasana). I also managed to hold my balance here, even while transitioning from one variation to the next. I did fall out during the most challenging position, but instead of caving in to my usual downtrodden, self-deprecating thought process, I kept lifting my leg out in front of me and holding my foot with first one, then the other hand, and lowered my head to my knee, while balancing on one leg! I balanced! In class on my mat! A first! Please excuse the excessive us of exclamation points but I was so very excited!

The class finished with more flow after our balance poses and I happily felt in tune with my body and heart through each asana. As we settled on our mats for shavasana, teacher asked us to visualize a light with our breath. She suggested pink or green. I usually do not go to these colors during prana. I am typically drawn to white/yellow or blue light. Yet the pink fit for this moment. I felt the pink light represented love for myself and the self compassion that I had started the class with. When on the exhale I visualized green, I saw it as my life force, my energy and as it met the pink on the inhale it was a beautiful shade of a light teal, my favorite color.

This class was a profound experience in many ways. For the first time I dedicated my practice to myself, found my balance, and reinforced self-love and my life force all while on my mat.

Yoga sometimes whispers its lessons, and sometimes it yells.