You see that beautiful tree-pose picture? Yeah, that’s not me. Not even close.

My downward facing dog is not so much downward as it is awkward.

Today, I was bent in half, or as bent-in-half as a woman with the mobility of an 88 year old can be, and my thighs were staring me right in the face. And not in a good way. “Acknowledge it, then let the thought walk right by you,” I reminded myself.

And then, during extended side angle pose, I fought the urge to angrily push my body into the correct position, to stretch it into submission, to make it beg for mercy. I had to channel my inner freak-out into something productive.


Welcome to my first month of yoga.


I didn’t start yoga in January as a New Year’s resolution, or to find inner peace, or for an excuse to buy new lulus. I started because, frankly, I need to improve my hip mobility for riding horses. Pretty simple. I cannot possibly sit my horse’s gigantic trot in an English saddle unless I am more flexible.


But I should have known that it would capture me. Halfway through the second class, when I was sweating and fighting to appear as calm as the 70 year old woman next to me, I knew I was hooked.


Here are a few lessons I have learned during my maiden voyage into the vast ocean of yoga:


There is nothing…NOTHING…harder than being still.


If your arms are shaking and you feel like falling down, realize you can’t fight tension. You can’t give in to tension. You have to partner with it, become comfortable with it, use it. Hello, life lesson.


It’s counterproductive to suck your gut in. For one thing, you can’t breathe. No one cares what you look like, so for god’s sake, stop thinking about it. Let your belly’s freak-flag fly. Out and proud and breathing big.


You will have 14 bazillion thoughts during a session. Everything from “I HATE yoga” to “I wonder how they really make kombucha?” Rather than fight to empty your mind, just watch the thoughts wander past. If you’re lucky, you will have maybe five millisecond-moments of quiet-minded bliss. Maybe next year, it will be 10. Then 20.


Begin each practice with intention. There aren’t really PRs or numbers to quantify your success, so you have to find something else. Maybe today it’s focusing on deep belly breathing; and tomorrow, it’s flowing through your vinyasa more fluidly. Sow intention, reap satisfaction.


Each session is YOUR session. No one else’s. Not the instructor’s, not the 25 year old yogi next to you. It’s yours. Focus in. (Ignore the mirror, Deborah. For god’s sake, IGNORE the mirror.)



Overall, I would say the biggest lesson has been partner with my body, to talk to it gently and ask for what I want. It’s finding my edge and asking nicely for just a little bit more. It’s not being concerned with where I fall in the scheme of yoga-greatness, but allowing myself an hour to be where I am, without judgment.


I walk out into the day knowing why it’s called a “sun salutation…,” it feels just that good.