“How do you do that?” a student currently going through yoga teacher training asked after my Monday class.
Fair questions. And not so long ago I thought it was nuts to take two classes in a row. Other teacher pals raved about the joys of doubling up, but I wrote it off as an unnecessary time and energy drain. Why not just haul ass-ana in the first class and get it over with already? A strong 75-minute practice in a hot room is surely enough to transport a committed and focused yogi to a feeling of completion and relaxation by the end of class. At the end of Svasana, it’s time to get up off the mat and go about your day or evening.
But not always. These days I sometimes stick around for the second class. Because I realize now, that sometimes, despite having already stretched, balanced, and engaged every muscle fiber to capacity just moments before for a full 75 or 90 minutes, I need to go deeper. Not because the first class didn’t deliver, but because sometimes, the real magic – or even miracles – occurs in the second class. That’s the simple answer to why I stretch back into Downward Facing Dog at the end of Svasana to begin anew.
The how warrants a lengthier explanation, which perhaps will provide further explanation to why I occasionally do it.
Surrender. Like most former competitive athletes obsessed with progress, results, improvement, and winning, surrendering to anything – be it backing off a yoga pose or allowing the jackass who cut me off in traffic to do it again – is no easy feat. But when your body is drenched in the sweat from the previous class and another simple Chatturanga feels akin to scaling Mt. Everest, you have no choice but to surrender. To quit resisting. To stop clenching your jaw, your muscles, your knuckles, and all of a sudden – magic – you glide gracefully into that pose you never thought you could do.
Focus. The work I’ve just done in class number one linking my breath to movement, locking my gaze on a singular point, and internally visualizing (no mirrors needed) where my back heel, top arm, shoulder blades and front knee are in space, I’m connected to my body in a way I can’t begin to describe. Not a marathon, nor a 200-mile bike ride or mile swim produced that kind of understanding of my own physicality in the past. Not to mention mental or emotional state. During class number two, I am clear as ever about what physical sensations I’m experiencing, what they mean, and how to get closer to whatever it is my heart desires.
Love. I don’t use this word loosely. I’m a pretty practical gal – and frankly I don’t see ever finding love in Double Pigeon pose – more like a big f*** you coming from my outer hips. What I adore about this amazing practice, however, is that there are countless other poses to bring me love. By the second class, with a razor-sharp focus and relenting muscles beyond the point of resistance, the poses that naturally come easier to me deliver a love toward myself that I seldom find elsewhere. Standing split, Wheel, Half Moon – these are poses the Gods above (and a nice twist of genetic fate) have bestowed upon me. And allowed me to, if even for just a moment, truly fall in love with myself all over again.
Try it. Double up classes some time. And if anyone says you’re nuts, just pass them the jar of almonds and roll out your mat.