The day I got YOGA

I was a young intern at the prestigious Cartier Fondation of the Arts in Paris when I first practised YOGA. It was 90 min of rigorous Iyengar practice on the penthouse of the building, at lunch break.

I was very intrigued by the practice, it was serious and disciplined – two very big characteristics of the person I thought I was meant to be, back then. I was intrigued by the complexity of the wording used by my teacher Alex Onfroy - I was not sure what turning the right inner cylinder of my front thigh towards the opposite leg inner heel meant, but I thought 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 time I attended, the class was quite busy, and after a few weeks, much less colleagues would take the lift upstairs to unroll their mat. Why, I asked?

Some stopped attending class because they mindlessly hurt themselves, blaming the teacher. Some others stopped coming fearing they will injure themselves like their colleague. Some decided it was all too ‘out-there’. Most thought their body was just working too hard, and that it hurt. Some were too busy to commit. Some were regular but always bored, unless doing their few favourite poses.

And I thought: yes, I feel all of this too, at times. But when I am engaged with my practice, when I am in the body, there is something that feels really good and expansive. I feel peaceful within the intensity of the efforts. I feel engaged in the soothing moments.

That was the day I got it, I got YOGA.