To light a candle is to cast a shadow…

Ursula K. Le Guin

Today was the first time in my life that I stepped foot into a 24 Hour Fitness for a yoga class. It was an 8:30 am class. This was also my first time taking a yoga class with my mom. The entire experience was bizarre. Here’s what happened.

I entered the room at around 8:25 am. The previous session, a meditation class taught by the same instructor, was still in progress. I found a nice spot near the rear of the room and rolled out my mat and put my Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel on top of it. It was at that point that I looked around the room.

In the middle of the room was a foldable camping chair with what looked to be an inflatable sleeping pad rolled out in front of it. A woman with a white cotton fishing hat was seated on it, chanting. Was this a camp retreat or a yoga practice?! This was highly unusual and my brain just couldn’t process it. Minutes later, a young man entered the room, set up shop to my right, and began karate chopping and kung fu kicking his way to enlightenment. Mind you, this was not what the teacher was instructing.

It was at that moment the 8:30 am class started. The teacher led us through some chanting and then a very spastic flow of tabletop, to downward facing dog, to upward facing dog, to child’s pose. After a few repetitions of this, we flipped onto our backs and did 1-minute of bicycle kicks. Then, over onto our stomachs for 1-minute of free-style kicking. The rest of the class involved continuously shishkabobing back and forth between stomach and back while doing “breath of fire” breathing. Then, we concluded with chanting. Karate kid was still doing his own thing.

Frankly, this class had none of the elements I love about yoga. The teacher didn’t set any intention for the practice, the students were all doing their own thing, and the transitions from one asana to another were abrupt. It was one of the worst yoga classes I’ve ever taken.

But did I truly hate it? No. Because in experiencing this class, I realized how blessed I am. I am grateful for my current practice and the studios that I attend. I’ve always been trying to find balance between effort and ease. And here I realized that a fulfilling life requires delicate balance between good and bad.

When we experience something negative, we disproportionately overemphasize its importance in our life. The stories we tell and gravitate towards are always that way. Love? You can bet there’s heartbreak. If it’s about friendship, there’s backstabbing involved. Work? Definitely those people that didn’t deserve to be promoted. Its as if we only lived for pain and suffering.

But what we often forget is that these experiences are necessary and that they help highlight the positives. You know what I’m talking about. The “you can’t have good without evil” mumbo jumbo. Each bad experience we have makes future experiences that much better.

I don’t know about you, but I’m firmly resolved to enjoy myself on this rollercoaster of life. You know the feeling. The anticipation, anxiety, and dread as you climb up towards the peak. Then the release, pleasure, and happiness as you plunge towards the bottom. It should be exactly like that. Never thinking about the previous plunge or climb – only the current one.

Remember, the lows are for us to really experience the highs – not the other way around.


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