04 Aug The Day I Got Yoga

I was a young intern at the prestigious Cartier Foundation of the Arts in Paris when I practiced my first yoga class. It was 90 minutes of rigorous Iyengar practice in the penthouse of the building on my lunch break.

 

I was very intrigued by the practice. The yoga style was serious and disciplined – two very big characteristics of the person I thought I was meant to be at the time. I was intrigued by the complex words used by my teacher Alex Onfroy. I wasn’t sure what turning the right inner cylinder of my front thigh towards the opposite leg’s inner heel meant but I knew it felt good!

 

I would breathe and bend week after week. I would get frustrated at myself for not holding tree pose away from the wall. I would listen closely to the teacher, not to understand more, but rather to “be a good student”. I would curse my calves being too big to do a pose and try to hide my frustration. I would feel ashamed when being caught in self-pity. I would only be aware of the release in savasana – a sensation of purity, of floatation, of relief.

 

I understood yoga when I realised my experience on the mat was much deeper than that of most of my co-workers. The first class I attended was quite busy but after a few weeks, the number of colleagues taking the lift upstairs to unroll their mats dwindled. Why, I asked?

Some stopped attending class because they mindlessly hurt themselves, blaming the teacher. Some others stopped coming out of fear that they too would injure themselves. Some decided it was all too “out-there”. Majority of the group were sore and believed that their bodies were working too hard. Others were too busy to commit and some were regulars who were always bored – unless they were doing their few favourite poses.

 

And I thought: yes, I feel all of this too. But when I was fully immersed in my practice, when I was in my body, there was something that felt really good and expansive. In the intensity of yoga asana, I felt peace and in the soothing moments I felt engaged and alive.

 

That was the day I got it. I got yoga.

 

By Maud Leger