Something Adventurous

“That is perfection in Yoga, the best you can honestly do on any given day.” -Bikram Choudhury

I did something adventurous in the studio this week. Something daring. Something even the wingsuit base jumpers of the world would’ve been proud of.

I set up my yoga mat in the front row.

I’ve climbed Mt. Washington, flown a small airplane, and danced to Ke$ha in front of my entire high school, but this might have been the boldest thing I’ve ever done. The front row is reserved for the experienced and the flexible. Instructors will tell new students, “just look to the people in the front row if you’re having trouble, they’ll show you what to do.” It’s the inner sanctum. The créme de la créme. So naturally I got into the habit of setting up my mat as far away from the front row as possible. I imagined someday receiving a prestigious invitation in the mail from the deities of yoga themselves, their words handsomely engraved in a bar of gleaming gold: WELCOME TO THE FRONT ROW, HANNAH, YOU’VE MADE IT! But as it turns out, the admission process isn’t quite that elaborate.

I walked into the studio, looked around like a bank robber about to commit a poorly-planned heist, and laid my mat down in the front row next to my mom’s.

That was it. No alarms sounded; no yoga deities appeared to curse me. I half expected someone to spot me and shout, “HEY! She can’t even sit on her knees! Haul her away from there!” But miraculously, that didn’t happen either. I just did what I always do before class: sat with my legs crossed, discreetly admired myself in the mirror, and waited for practice to begin.

Being so close to my own sweaty reflection for 90 minutes was both exhilarating and horrifying. I noticed that the redness in my face made my eyes look greener than usual. I could count the beads of sweat on my own shoulders. I came to terms with the fact that no matter what exercise regimen I employ, a friendly layer of stomach flub will always fold in on itself when I sit down. But superficiality aside, I also found that the physical closeness to myself actually brought me closer to my practice. It’s difficult to avoid your flaws when they’re staring you straight in the face, and the front row made me focus longer and push harder to try and correct them. (I still struggled to touch my toes in that last stretching posture, but hey, they tell me it’s a process.)

My thoughts still wandered to a world where yoga includes nap time. I still made lists in my head of possible sweat-related deaths. When the instructor announced that it was time for wind-removing pose, I still thought to myself, “oh, she means fart pose.” But overall, I felt stronger and calmer in the front than I ever had cowering in the back corners of the studio. From now on, I’ll have a front row seat to the sweat show, no golden ticket necessary.

A few other tidbits I learned in my first week of the 30-day challenge:

  •  The word “yoga” actually means yoking, or “connecting.”
  • “Namaste,” the sentiment used to close every yoga practice, means “the light in me honors the light in you.”
  • A male yoga enthusiast is called a yogi, while a female yoga enthusiast is called a yogini. (Ladies, we’re only two letters away from Voldemort’s killer pet snake. If that’s not badass, I don’t know what is.)
  • The Sanskrit names for yoga poses are formed by adding a deity’s name to the word “asana,” which means a kind of prayer. (Of course I immediately began brainstorming ideas for the “Hannahsana” pose, which I’ve decided would look something like the way your body recoils after you accidentally walk into a door.)


The Bikram outfit my mom got me for my birthday scares me a little bit, but I told myself I’d be allowed to wear it in public after at least one week of the challenge. It’s been 7 days, so maybe I’ll unveil this baby tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes.



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lauren Perrodin
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 18:40:24

    You rock Hannah, darling!


  2. Sean Barrows
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 18:57:52

    Congrats on finishing your first week! I’m happy to find that you’re 2 for 2 in mentioning farts and your description of Hannahsana left me laughing. Can’t wait to hear how your next week goes. Keep up the good work!


  3. Rina Drake
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 21:02:05

    Week one down! It’s hard not to look left in that front row and think to myself, “Damn, I made that…” Proud of you Hann. How bout rinasana? What would that look like?


  4. Annabelle Eliopoulos
    Jun 11, 2013 @ 01:58:49

    You’re killing me haha love reading these & the nagini comment was perfection


  5. Donna Kraus
    Jun 11, 2013 @ 12:20:19

    Love this! Find myself on the edge of my ‘sweat-free” seat waiting for your next installment . . .


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