Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yoga in the Labyrinth

Tonight I went to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to participate in Yoga in the Labyrinth. I can say without a doubt this has been my favorite thing that I have done since moving here 5 weeks ago. I read about this class online (Oh the things you can find on Pinterest!) and was immediately intrigued.

I had decided to go this week finally and immediately got kinda nervous, which I realize is stupid. I was afraid that I would get there and they would be like didn't you read the website there is no yoga class today and kick me to the curb where I would land squarely on my butt. I was afraid of what all these other people would think of my mediocre yoga ability. Much like my running, I don't consider myself a real to go, whatever that means. Would I fit in? Will people like me? I had read about the class online and started conjuring images in head of what it would be like to perform a yoga class in a huge Gothic cathedral. Would the actual experience be a disappointment to the one in my head?

It was everything and more that I had wanted. It was peacefully perfect. It was beautiful from the inside out with gorgeous architecture to gorgeous music to gorgeous readings. I won't be able to truly explain how soothing and lovely an experience this was. It's been a while since I've had a moment like this. Where all the stars and pieces line up magically. A moment to be cherished and treasure.

We all know what the insides of Gothic churches look like. Soaring ceilings with flying buttresses. Intricate and colorful stained glass windows throwing color and light sporadically throughout the tall pillars. A vast space with amazing acoustic sounds. This cathedral has a labyrinth for people to walk and pray through. For class in the center of the labyrinth a live musician plays. Tonight was an amazing musician who used wind pipes, several didgeridoo's (a personal favorite), and the piano to accompany our flow.

Hundreds upon hundreds of people come to this every week. I'm talking 300-400 yogi's take over the cathedral. We lined the labyrinth, the halls, in-between pews, spilling out into the vestibule, and lining the dais. Anywhere and everywhere someone could carve out enough space for a mat they would add their mat to the growing group of people coming to practice in this magical space. I was a little apprehensive about practicing with so many people, because often it can feel a bit stifling having so many people crammed into a space moving, but with the soaring ceilings overhead you didn't notice.

Class is kicked off by Father Jude, a priest at Grace, who starts with a little talk about the weekly theme (today was peaceful warriors), followed by Darren (who runs class), who also gives a brief reading and introduction. The music started and we mediated, followed by vinyasa flow style yoga. Part way through class we pause to mediate again, while the bells overhead announce the seven o'clock hour. The streetcars can be heard screening outside on the street as we moved through our Sun salutations.

Usually during class I spend a lot of it looking down, focusing on my practice and breath, and trying to stay slightly invisible so nobody sees my wobbly poses. Yet in this class, I found myself trying to look up and out. The church is so beautiful and it was such a unique way to experience yoga. It was also a reminder that we all need to stop looking down, or better yet looking at our phones, and look up and out more often. The world is out there, waiting to be seen by us, we just need to look.

This class is incredibly peaceful and beautiful. It is such a unique way to experience the cathedral and yoga together. If you are ever in San Francisco on a Tuesday I highly recommend going!! 

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