When it comes to actual effort to get into shape, I’ve done it all: Zumba, Insanity, Kettlebell Kickboxing, running, free weights, and so on and so forth. However, since sophomore year of college, I have failed to even attempt yoga. I decided to revisit.
In late January 2014, I found my dream apartment in Astoria, Queens. While my sweet realtor drove me back to her office one evening, she was pointing with her little hand at the different, attractive features of the neighborhood. With her thick Greek accent, she points to the second floor of a corner building and tells me about the great yoga studio up there. “Quiet. And cheap! I go there sometimes after work. Five dollars per class? One dollar per mat? Very affordable.”
Once my two new roommates and I move in, unpack and go through our own new-apartment settling rituals, we find our spots to work out. I journey over to the yoga studio and my first class was taught by this tall woman with a messy bun of thin hair on top of her head. She looks like someone who would teach me how to camp, not necessarily pull off the perfect warrior II pose. She greets me, introduces herself as Anna, and shows me around the studio. With her thin, but present, French (?) accent, she leads the class off with a perfect breathing exercise that kicked off the five-dollar 75 minute session in a great way. A new level of personal awareness dawns on me and I notice small things, random things, like the fact that my right hand seems to feel colder than my left. There’s a spot in the left hamstring that keeps twitching…
Beside the overuse of the word “sweet,” Anna said something that kicked up a whirlwind of thoughts. While lying in a child’s pose, she tells us to just listen to our own heartbeat, because it’s our own, “and that is pretty sweet.”
You don’t ever really stop to appreciate your own heartbeat. Unless you have a heart murmur, are feeling it because of a surprise, fear, or flutter, how often do you really pay attention to an essential part of your existence? When it comes to others, we act like they’re the most beautiful background music ever composed.
Lying in bed with a lover, you melt into their heartbeat. Getting a sonogram, you jump at the first sound of your own baby’s heartbeat. Slow dancing with your father at your wedding, you listen to the heartbeat that was the score of your childhood. In a hospital with a loved one who is about to die, you try to memorize those beats as though you were never going to hear your favorite song again.
But why can’t we appreciate our own?
Between illness and heartbreak, I have learned that this body is really all I can count on. It’s small, strong, fragile, and it is mine. Clothing, hairstyles, friends, lovers, jobs, pets, and hobbies come and go, but your body is your own. I am determined to enjoy everything it has to offer me. It is essentially one of the few things that I have near complete control over.