I arrived in Austin and went almost immediately to a 6:00 vinyasa class at Yoga Yoga. This time I actually traveled with my yoga mat on the plane. I’m not sure why. I never do that — but for some reason I did not want to leave it at home this time. I sort of felt like Linus with his blanket.
It’s amazing how heightened everything becomes when you go to a new class. It’s not like you don’t know what’s about to happen — it’s a yoga class — but new studio, new city, new teacher. It can be hit or miss.
I did this a couple of months ago in Vienna. I went to a yoga class at Yoga Kula. The entire class was in German. It was literally like taking yoga from Charlie Brown’s parents. I took German in high school, but at this point in my life all I can really do is count and ask where the bathroom is located. I understood nothing she said and she used no sanskrit. But, I was so glad I did it. It was an awakening for me to the idea of travel yoga. I think of it as the new souvenir “experience” I collect when I go places — a yoga class.
Today was not quite so complicated. I was late because of traffic (yes, Austin has traffic!), but they were very welcoming. The class was full, which is always a good sign. The instructors name was Lizzie and I really liked her. The flow was not as intense as I am used to, but it was a solid class and Lizzie was very calming. I actually did some things I had not done before and that always feels great, unless it’s an arm balance … I have so much fear of balancing on my arms.
The most impressive thing about the day is that I met someone in the class. I made a yoga friend in the first class at a new studio in a relatively foreign city to me. His name was Elijah.
I so rarely connect with other people at yoga in Los Angeles. Actually, I rarely connect with any people in Los Angles. But today I wondered if it was Los Angeles or if it was me. Was I more open today than I am at home? Yes.
We are virtually connected all over the world, but making an actual connection with another human being is so rare, and often startling when it happens.
Earlier this week I started making a point to look people in the eye and smile when I was in check out lines. Do you know how hard this is to do? We don’t look at each other. We don’t connect. We stare at the ground or worse — we stare at our phones! It makes me freaking nuts, and I do it too. When you step away from it and just observe the interaction around you — it’s actually a little disturbing.
This week I looked at all of my check out clerks in the eye and smiled. One woman was so overjoyed she thanked me for smiling at her. Imagine someone thanking you for acknowledging them? And then I thought about all the times I just went through a checkout line — completely preoccupied — without giving much regard for the person helping me. I don’t think I was intentionally rude. I just think I was not there.
So tonight when Elijah and I talked about yoga and Austin and Los Angeles, it was nice to connect with another human being. It’s rare for me to step outside my comfort zone, especially when I have been feeling so vulnerable and alone personally.
Connection only happens when both sides are working at it. It will not come to you if you are staring at your phone or zoned out. By opening myself to others, others have opened. Funny how that works.
This is why I love yoga.