Finding Center and Building Strength

Four years ago I was working at a restaurant at the Santa Monica Pier when a guest had left his book at the table. We kept the book behind the bar for at least a week and no one had claimed it.My fellow co workers (knowing me all to well, like a person addicted to rescuing animals, I was addicted to rescuing books). When I came in for my shift the following week, I could only think about the lost book sitting behind the bar waiting for a home. That is a serious statement, I had a dream about that book before I went into work the next day, I take it as an indisputable sign from that dream on. So, I snuck behind the bar and snatched the book from one of the bartender’s buckets.

“I knew you were gunna come in and snatch that book!”

Whatever now the book is mine.

The book, if I haven’t mentioned the title was The Bhagavad-Gita. And I’m not going to lie that book made a home for itself on my every protruding bookshelf for a solid year before I picked it up, but then I did.

I haven’t read the whole thing yet, I read some sections at a time; so I can really think about what the text is saying. I’m must disclose that I am not a religious person at all much to the dismay of my Italian mother & grandmother. And I don’t take the Gita as religious text. I let my eyes take the words in and my brain interpret the meanings as it pleases.

But what I did discover was the practice of Yoga.

And yes, many people start yoga for many different reasons.

But maybe I needed a push; maybe I needed a sign to tell me it’s time to start. Maybe I have a flair for the dramatic.

I started going once a week to get my body better, and to get myself out of the house. Until I found myself in Anthony Benenati’s Hath 1 Yoga class, and then I never wanted to leave.

After practicing yoga for a solid month I noticed the benefits my practice was having on my body. My arms jiggled less, my thighs were always firm and my stomach…well it was getting there. And after a month I pretty much stopped worrying the classic newbie worries one has when they start something new. ‘Am I breathing right? Does the teacher think I suck? My boobs are sweating. How do people sit here for 15 minutes and have a clear mind? I hope I don’t fart. I have to get milk later.’

But I was waiting to feel something, something that connected me to “my practice”. An enlightened moment when I could say, “OMG I am a true YOGI!”

But that doesn’t happen, that’s not realistic. Yoga’s whole philosophy is to take it slow, use props, build your way to a pose from the Earth up.  And I found the belief in my practice that way. When I started yoga not only was my body weak, but so was my spirit, and gradually from the ground up I learned how to build strength.

I have now been practicing yoga for a a few years and I continue to find solace in the hard wooden floor, brick walls and humming ceiling fans.

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