When I fell in love with exercise it fueled my obsessive nature – length of class time, reps, weights, calories burned, calorie intake, distance completed, rate of perceived exertion, amount of sweat, weight lost etc. I spent a very, very long time letting the numbers of fitness rule my mind and heart that when I discovered yoga at a studio on Christopher Street in NYC called Laughing Lotus in 2002, my world forever changed.
When I found yoga, I found a way to enjoy exercise in a way that was more physically, mentally and emotionally challenging than running a marathon. Through yoga, I gained a new perspective about my pursuit of fitness and health. Yoga helped me learn to be accepting of myself and to appreciate the power of my body, mind and soul. Prior to practicing yoga, I definitely was using exercise as a form of torture along the pursuit to become what I thought was going to be the best version of myself. Now, even though I don’t practice yoga regularly it is really a part of who I am.
When I found out that one of the founders of LLYC, Dana “Trixie” Flynn, was helping to lead a Rooftop Yoga session while I was visiting NYC, it was a no brainer that I’d attend. Dana and her partner Jasmine were my teachers and they made yoga accessible and pleasurable to a skeptic like me. I learned that yoga could be fun, challenging and spiritual without being intimidating or judgmental. Even though it had been a long time since I had practiced yoga with Dana or Jasmine, my memories of “Little Lotus” (LLYC now has 2 large locations – 1 in NYC and 1 in San Francisco) and of Rooftop Yoga were spectacular and definitely long overdue for revisiting.
I was lucky enough to be able to have my friend and fellow mom, runner and yoga enthusiast, Christine from LoveLifeSurf.com accompany me on what I believe might have been one of the most gorgeous NYC nights you can imagine in August – cool, clear and not at all humid.
When I got to the roof, my heart skipped a beat – it was all familiar: I remembered the playground accessories on the rooftop, the fake flowers placed in the grates of the gate surrounding the rubber mats of the practice area and there was Dana! After I took some time to absorb the 360 degree view of majestic New York City all around me, I couldn’t help but feel like a part of me had really come home and it was good.
A movie couldn’t have done justice what was happening on the rooftop that night. It couldn’t have been more picturesque with the sun setting behind the tall buildings surrounding a group of people practicing vinyasa yoga. I didn’t think that the atmosphere of love, laughter, movement, breath and sweat could be described well until I heard Dana say to “move like yourself” and I nearly burst out crying. I forgot all about this once familiar Dana-mantra and I was shocked by impact those 3 words had upon me.
For the rest of the night I know I smiled a ridiculously big, goofy smile. I had to work hard to keep tears from streaming down my face during the flow of poses. It felt extraordinary to feel that happy from 3 (not typical) simple words. I learned to move like myself through Laughing Lotus yoga and I was getting the chance to celebrate that fact and I felt unbelievably grateful!
Even though I felt like a total geek, I went over to Dana after class to thank her (and Jasmine) for helping me to discover yoga all those years ago. Dana said that she remembered me and gave me a big hug. Even if she was being polite and her Dana-like loving self, it helped me fall in love with yoga and New York all over again.