by Blakeney Schick
I remember nothing about my first yoga class, except feeling like a fish out of water the entire time. I had a vague idea of what yoga was going in, but the details turned out to be complex, specific, and infinite in number. But I kept coming to class, intrigued by all of it, especially the fact that I felt so good after class.
I also remember the nerves I had when I came to Mala for the first time. Coming back from a long break from yoga, I felt like the new kid again. I was. I felt like I was starting over with my physical practice. I was. I didn’t know where anything was — props, mats, blocks. But I kept coming back.
As part of Mala’s teacher training, we have been asked to go out and sample the yoga that New York City has to offer. There’s a lot, and I’ve enjoyed trying different classes, teachers, and studios. But what I didn’t realize at first was that I would be the new kid again.
I learned very quickly that each studio, each teacher has their own way of doing things. I’ve been in classes where the teacher has called out a pose that I have never heard of, and I have had to watch the rest of the class like a hawk as they moved into this mysterious pose, and then tried to mimic it as best I could — just like my first month of yoga classes. I have been confused about where the props are in the studio. I have been given lavish amounts of attention as the new kid, and I have been totally ignored.
And just when I thought I was used to being new all over again, there was the class where I literally lost my mat.
It was during an Iyengar class. By the time we moved into a supported plow pose, we had pulled out bolsters, belts, blocks, and chairs. The studio looked like a warehouse sale. At some point between folding up the 5 blankets I ended up needing for the pose, getting the chair in the right place, and then realizing I needed a block as well, I lost my mat. Though I hadn’t moved more than 4 feet in any direction for the last hour, I had no idea where it was. I thought I had lost my mind.
I started laughing at myself as I began looking around very carefully, trying to retrace my steps while a chorus of “WTF?!?!” repeated over and over in my head. I found my mat a few minutes later, folded up under some of those 5 blankets. I had put it there because, being new, I had copied what the other students had done to prevent their blankets from slipping on the bamboo floor.
I was still laughing as I settled into the supported plow pose with the chair, the block, the blankets and my folded up mat. I was still the new kid, still trying to figure out the complex, specific and infinite details of the practice. After years of getting on the mat, I had learned that, if you’re not paying attention, you can literally lose it. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find it again a few minutes later, serving as the foundation for the practice that you’ve built. And it really helps to laugh along the way.
Blakeney Schick is a public radio producer who follows events and elections. She started going to yoga 8 years ago in the hopes that it would help her stand up straighter. It has. But she’s stayed on the mat because yoga’s also made her stronger in every possible way. Blakeney found her way to Mala in late 2007, and finished Mala’s 200-hour teacher training in 2012. She is also a regular contributor to the Mala Yoga blog.