The mat is the only place where I am truly quiet. That long narrow black piece of plastic I spend a little over an hour on at the end of everyday is the only place I feel completely free.
I look forward to the time I will spend there from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. Throughout my day the anticipation of sitting down on my mat consumes me. Once I arrive at my favorite destination I realize that now it is the journey that really matters as I twist and turn and bend myself through every pose.
Yoga will be without a doubt the best and most challenging hour of my day. I will depend on my breath holding every posture like a newborn depends on a parent’s care.
When I first arrive I prepare I take the opening moments to acquaint myself with my surroundings, I take it all in. This is important so I will eliminate these distractions through the rest of class. I notice the lighting. Are they brighter than I had hoped or do I have to squint to see my toes? I notice the people surrounding me. Is it my best friend in the world who accompanies me to yoga everyday or a friendly stranger who I admire for trying the hobby I adore so much for the first time? I notice the sounds. Do I hear chatter outside the studio or my favorite song blasting through the speakers?
Noticing these things at the onset allows me to entirely focus my attention inwards, drowning out all outside distractions. My entire world exists on my mat even if only for 90 minutes it becomes my magic carpet taking me anywhere I want to go.
I forget about time. Time does not seem to pass like it does when I step off my magic mat.
Why does it seem every chair pose lasts forever and every child’s pose is over in the blink of an eye? The answer: my mind. My mind will want to tell me all kinds of things that are false. I have to learn to ignore it, and think only with what my body feels.
Silencing my mind I concentrate on my breath. Deeply inhaling and exhaling taking in everything I can. Breathing and realizing, my breathe is the one thing that is guaranteed to be with me as long as I am alive. Breathing, the simplest thing you can do will become my greatest ally on and off the mat.
Now I can begin to move, I pass through each movement, not only listening to the teacher say each pose we to move into but listening to the louder more important voice inside my head telling me what pose I need to hold or skip.
The practice does not end when I open my eyes, finish the om, or even when I roll up my mat and leave the warm room I could stay in forever, instead that is where it begins.
Regardless of grade level, major or hometown college students continually feel pressured. Whether it’s the scream hear all around campus in the middle of finals week or deciding what party to go to on any given night or figuring out what you will do with the rest of your life; college has a way of making stressing you out when in the grand scheme of things you may never even remember what you are dealing with now. Yoga acts as a way of relieving some of this pressure even if only for a while.