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The Yoga Chonicles, Part 4: The end and the beginning

This is the third of a series of articles following Allen Wallace’s first try at yoga. Our friends at Yoga Masala and Masala on Main invited him to try four classes per week for a month and share his experiences. These are his experiences, and believe us when we say he should not be considered a yoga expert. If he confuses cheetah and lizard, be gentle. You can find Part 1 herePart 2 here, and Part 3 here.

A month into the journey, I’ve reached the end of my month-long commitment to take yoga classes and write about them. However, the experience has been so fantastic that yoga will remain part of my life. I’ll still be practicing and taking classes, learning and enjoying and making myself healthier.

The chronicles won’t keep coming weekly (let’s be honest, you’d get sick of me), but there will be occasional updates (spoiler: the next installment will include baby goats). For now, in list form by request, here are more lessons from my first month of many to come.

  1. Restorative yoga is known as “the art of doing nothing.” Don’t be fooled. While there’s a good reason for that nickname, it’s still incredibly intense.
  2. Related: believe it or not, lying on your back, legs against a wall and pointed straight up, with a sandbag lying across your feet, feels incredibly good.
  3. Yoga is not bound to any particular religion, but lessons from many can be incorporated. For example, Laura Hughes often ends classes with a suggestion to live like the Hindu god Ganesha (god of new beginnings and remover of obstacles), whose stomach peacefully digests everything in life, both good and bad.
  4. I still have not mastered folding and tying my Thai Fisherman Pants. I shall persevere.
  5. Rolf Gates, internationally renowned yoga teacher, said “Our human default is greed, hate and delusion.” Yoga helps get past those instincts, a thing perhaps more useful than ever in the America of 2017.
  6. Namaste is a really fascinating word, with multiple layers of meaning. Yes, yoga even offers things specifically for language nerds like me. I advise looking into it if you’re at all interested in words, but my favorite summary is this one from Yoga Journal: Namaste is an “acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.”

    I could caption this, but why deprive you of the pleasure of making your own joke? (photos for this story by Caroline Surrett)

  7. Yoga bros are a thing, and they’re awesome. What a glorious time to be alive.
  8. There’s so much variety in yoga. There’s a class or type of class for every taste. Some are more intense. There are countless different styles used by teachers, and each individual makes the practice their own.
  9. Yoga mats are not all created equal. I watched a poor woman fall twice (no injuries, happily) thanks to a mat she had bought which was apparently made of Teflon and banana peels. Choose your mat carefully.
  10. I can’t say it often enough: yoga is a phenomenal experience and one which is open to anyone. Old or young, fat or thin or in between, all genders, all races: we’re all part of the same community (another yoga lesson which applies in larger areas). As one of my teachers, Douglas Herlong, put it, “Without yoga sometimes I’m not the best version of myself.
  11. Thank you to all my teachers, classmates, and friends who’ve helped me find that best version of myself this past month. Thanks also to all who’ve indulged me by reading. Namaste.

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