falling into the path of yoga

Most of us live our lives in a continuous free fall. Flapping our limbs around without control. Screaming as we precipitate into the abyss day, after day, after day... in a seemingly endless loop.

And then one day, we hit the ground. We make a soft landing.

And, as if waking up from a nightmare, we gasp and sit up. Our breath short and shallow. Droplets of cold sweat on our forehead. And that uneasy feeling that tells us we just dodged a bullet.

Then the breath calms. We shake it all off. We look around and, for the first time, we feel like we can actually see.

It’s as if, for a microsecond, everything slowed down, and we can take it all in. The coldness of the air as it passes through our nostrils. Our lungs as they expand. All the smells, the colors, the blinding light of the sun sneaking into the room through the space between our curtains.

And we finally A R E.

Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.
— B.K.S. Iyengar

It’s been almost 9 years since I stepped into my first yoga class, on a cold London fall morning, without quite knowing what to expect. I was on a break from life, a runaway, some sort of modern day hermit, trying to find in physical movement the solace that I hadn’t been able to find in my shallow life, which had collapsed into ruins after my father’s suicide earlier that same year.

Let it be no shame in admitting that I was broken and lost, for don’t we all need to be lost first in order to find ourselves?

Little did I know that that yoga class on that particular morning was about to change my life forever.

So I stepped in the room and somehow followed along an Anusara Yoga class, confused when I couldn’t quite figure out or keep up with the sun salutations, yet making it a point to continue to move, doing my best to follow the teacher’s instructions, until the end. I honestly don’t remember what asanas we practiced that day. I don’t remember anything the teacher may have talked about. It’s all foggy, a whirlwind of confusion, but the vivid kind of it.

And then savasana came, and I laid there, on my mat, eyes closed, waiting for a cue that never came.

If there’s something I remember clearly it’s that, in this particular class, the teacher didn’t provide any instructions for savasana. I recall my mind racing, wondering what I was supposed to be doing, jumping through my thoughts at full speed and then coming up with some more, and then, all of a sudden, being sucked out of my body into the darkness.

Into a quiet place.

My mind stopped rambling and, as it did, I could almost feel a gentle tap on my temple, and a whisper in my ears: “Remember.”

And I remembered.

My whole life rushed in front of my eyes, just like they say it does when you realize you’re dying, but this was a whole other experience. A side of me that I had somehow forgotten along the way, spiritual me, had come back full force and was holding my head in place so that I couldn’t look away. Everything that I used to be, everything that used to matter came back in a matter of seconds that could have lasted for hours.

And when my awareness sank into my body again, I was a new person.

Or rather, I was a little closer to my old self, to the essence of my Self.

I walked home that day in a sort of magic spell that has never left me since. The realization that yoga is the path I was supposed to be on all this time. And the determination to never let it go again.

My free fall had come to an end. I had made a soft landing.

And so the journey began.