Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Yoga and Commitment

Jafar looks like he should rock out blissfully while playing drums for a Rastafarian band.  He looks like he's from Jamaica, with dark skin and tattooed arms, black dreadlocks, and a cool, cool vibe.  Instead of drumming on a steel drum, he teaches yoga.  He breathes deeply and listens intently, speaks slowly and pushes us gently. 

Jafar is a popular teacher.  Our mats are lined up with just an inch or two of space in between; the floor is a quilt of rubber color rectangles.  Three times already Jafar has quietly showed us how to make even more room for more people who are still showing up.  The room is crowded, and pretty noisy for the minutes before a yoga class.  I'm trying to take a few minutes to find my intention for the class, but the chatter of friends greeting each other and catching up definitely challenges me, tempts me to become distracted before class even begins.

But Jafar gets all of our attention and, with a few words and within a few seconds, the room is silent except for him.

"Let's get started right away.  Lay back on your mat and breathe in and out through your nose.  Deep breaths, big breaths.  Take it in, let it out.  Start to be present.  Start to figure out where your body and mind are at this morning."

I lay back on my mat.  I do my best to turn off my competitive, driven, work out ego and turn on my yoga mindset.  That work out part of me gets so much fuel; it is my normal mode.  I am so good at determinedly trying to do more, be more, do better, be better.  To set goals and work hard to achieve them.  I tried to dial back that part of me while breathing in the cool, calm vibe that Jafar was giving all of us in the studio. I try to settle into the mode I'm trying to develop: the I'm-enough, accepting of myself belief.  It does not come naturally to this American girl.

"Today I want you to focus on committing to this practice even though you don't know what it involves.  Commit to being present even though you know your mind will wander and you'll struggle with some parts of this.  Commit to yourself, to this time, even when the outcome is uncertain."

Commit, even though the outcome is uncertain. 

Despite the fact that a crowd of spandex-sporting mamas on yoga mats surround me, I'm confident Jafar is speaking to me.  He's handing me the definition of commitment.  He knows I need it.  And, without processing why I need it, without beating myself up for not intrinsically knowing it, I try to be my best yoga self and just accept his definition without judgment (of myself).  And forgive myself for not having learned it and lived it before.

And then, I commit.  To my yoga practice.  To this class.  To this day.  To myself.  To lots of stuff.  Even though I can't see the outcome and even though I know that parts will be difficult and other parts will be sad and still other parts will be wonderful, I commit.


  1. Isn't it hard to be in the moment? The first step I think by your writing you have already accomplished.

  2. You make me really want to go to a yoga class. I have been thinking about it, but now if I go I will want Jafar as my teacher. I giggled at the part when you had to "turn off your competitive driven work out ego." Being the not flexible one in the class stops me from even showing up!! I am inspired however, to give it ago. You helped me visualise what it will be like. Great description of the busyness of the beginning of class. Good on you.