One of my first yoga classes was at a women’s fitness gym called Lucille Roberts in midtown Manhattan circa 2004. The class was held in a brightly lit room surrounded by mirrors, ellipticals, and stationary bikes. We moved to variations of Sun A while being soothed by the sweet sounds of Sting, Enya, and Sade. The women around me were of varying shapes and sizes. I would station myself in the back of the room in sweats and a too big t-shirt that would flip over my face in down dog. It was tough. Every class I went to required a ton of courage. We were all like kiddos taking broccoli at the dinner table. It was anything but graceful but man was it full of grace.

At Lucille Roberts, the instructor encouraged us to move with our breath and steady our focus in the poses. The welcome distraction of music and the gentle hum of stationary bikes were favorable. My yoga practice steadied over time and I sought out studio settings with more experienced teachers and carefully crafted playlists. It took six years of steady practice to prepare me for the concentration and deep relationship I would find in the Mysore room. I am loyal and slow as a student.

It does not take all yoga friends this long. Even though the yoga practice didn’t change, my relationship to it did. Eventually, I began to calm and I was able to concentrate deeply on my practice, breathe, and focal point rather than look outside for comfort.

I have dreams of placing one single rose of gratitude on the front desk of that gym. The birthplace of self-actualization and dharma realization. Yoga is a gift and an amazing system that works. No matter how you get to your yoga practice and maybe the Mysore room, keep going. You’ll get there my friend and I can’t wait to share our weird stories of grace, distraction, and Sun A to Kesha.

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