A New Life Through Yoga
by Hanna Hundal
The first time I earnestly began to question my method of decision-making in life, I was sitting cross-legged in a dimly-lit room, surrounded by a sea of thirty-, forty-, and fifty-year-olds. Ethereal music slowly streamed to the far corners of the room, the striking scent of lavender wafted through the air, and my aquamarine-colored yoga mat paled in comparison to the dark, hard wooden floor.
This type of exercise was vastly different from anything I had ever attempted before. Rather than narrowing in on drills or routines, the instructor was urging us to devote the practice to breathing, holding poses, and soothing our minds— the latter of which is nowadays quite a lofty thing to expect of anyone.
Naturally, my mind began to wander, and for a brief moment the words of my favorite Nina Simone song came flooding into my memory: “It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life.” Buoyed by this fresh mindset, I tried to embrace the uniqueness and to let the to-do list roll right off my shoulders. For as much as my teenage mind would permit, I tried to let myself appreciate the cleansing power of a deep, oceanic breath and absorb the wonders of all things calm and quiet.
And an hour later, as I rolled up my yoga mat and wished the instructor a heartfelt thank you, I was stunned by the turn of events. After all, I had come in expecting another fix-all program that attested to sculpting perfectly-chiseled bodies in ninety days or less. I left with a clear mind, inner peace, and scores of unlikely friends.
The enchantment that was born that fateful day cultivated into a habit still going strong. For even today, enmeshed as I may be in the intensity of high school life, I never fail to set aside time each week to visit the I Am Yoga Wellness Studio, located on Geer Road in Turlock, for a sweet and special soul-cleansing.
I often receive surprised inquiries from folks near and dear to me about why, as a teenager, I would possibly be drawn to such a gentle, nurturing activity like yoga. After all, since when are “kids these days” concerned with peace and oneness?
In reality, however, the attraction runs wide and deep. The studio is a special space where I get to feel the vigor and vibrancy of my community, where I get to experience firsthand the common threads that weave us together. It’s a place where, after each session, I can ] always find someone to strike up a good conversation with or simply laugh out my fitness insecurities with. It’s a place where, just one glance at the middle-aged man with the tattoos, the quiet lady with the pigtails, and the twenty-something with the neon-colored workout attire, and I know I am at home.
The studio offers a different assortment of classes each day of the week, ranging from Hatha Yoga to Therapeutic Yoga, Vinyasa Flow to Pilates (descriptions and times can be found at iamyogastudio.com). The over fifteen certified instructors are gracious beyond measure, readily accommodating to individual needs. The scents of savory soups and herbal teas delicately waft through the surroundings. A welcoming mood radiates from just a step through the door.
But ultimately, as I have learned, the decision to embark on the life-altering journey of yoga hinges on personally experiencing the benefits of such an activity for one’s own soul. For each new day provides an opportunity to enjoy a new kind of life, and yoga puts us — young or old, novice or expert — in a special space of soaking in the magic that surrounds us.