Off the Bike

by Cody Sovis

Walk into any class at Yen Yoga, and you’re going to see a diverse group of people. Everyone is there looking for something. It might be fitness, or calm, or simply to try something new. To me, that’s the fascinating part of yoga. There are so many qualities that are appealing that people of all walks of life, with myriad goals and interests, can find something attractive and meaningful in a yoga practice.

That interest can change. Right now, yoga is the way I make myself relax. I have always been an anxious person and could find any excuse to work a little bit longer or stay a little bit busier, even if there isn’t a need for it. I also train for bicycle racing up to fifteen hours a week, with much of that time spent at high intensity. I have a habit of saying yes to everyone, and all of these things combine to make me unwilling to slow down. Focusing on Gentle and Restorative Yoga classes is a way to find some balance, to force myself to stop moving, stop thinking, and to stop worrying.

I go into those classes with goals completely opposite of my normal ‘athletic’ training. I go in purposefully trying to stop thinking about work, relationships, money, even cycling. The goal is to focus only on being present and connected to my breathing. I try to exert myself as little as possible. I try to fall asleep. Seriously. My goal is to someday fall asleep, because to me, that would be the ultimate triumph over being anxious all the time. Some people may think that’s a terrible goal for what’s perceived as an athletic activity, but right now, that’s what I need to focus on. Those quiet hours, like Gentle and Restorative, are what I need.

These classes are slow, quiet and calming. A lot of people can benefit from what these classes instruct, which is to find yourself to move slowly and listen to your body. Especially as my riding starts to ramp up with better weather, it’s amazing what small aches and pains I can stretch out or relax from my neck, lower back, and hips. It’s incredible to leave the room feeling less anxious and physically light and limber.

Every time you enter a class, it’s so interesting to think of what brought all these people to Yen and to yoga in general. No matter the age, activity level, or type of practice, they’re here for a reason. And I think everyone understands that, and that’s why everyone is so inviting and encouraging around the studio. Whether you’re the youngest or oldest, fit or getting into it, every appreciates that you’re trying to be happier and healthier. Sometimes, that means taking Gentle yoga and almost falling asleep.