It was two days before Christmas, and I had sloshed to the studio in the morning to teach back-to-back classes. I was subbing, and with the time of year, and the extreme weather, I suspected the numbers would be small. They were.
I slipped and slid home again afterwards. I wanted to get my own practice in that day, but battling the ice, rain, and sleet again in falling temperatures didn’t appeal. I remembered that be in Union Square is ridiculously close to my apartment, and although I’d actually have to pay to take class, I wouldn’t risk life and limb to get there.
Plus, I saw on the schedule that Norm Brzycki was leading a late afternoon class. I’d practiced with him before. He’s big and gentle, gracious about the efforts put forth by the class, and cues postures with fresh language and unique visualizations.
So, I stepped out of my normal routine and into the heated enclave of be. The warm air slipped around me like a blanket, and gently tugged my shoulders out of my ears. Twenty minutes of foundational postures (building the vinyasa in pieces, surya a’s and surya b’s) brought me so fully into the present moment, so rooted in the now, that it felt like my body was landing more securely with each step, my fingers feeling the mat more distinctly. I couldn’t guess what was coming next, I couldn’t operated on autopilot. I had to listen for my breath, listen for cues, and respond accordingly.
Early in class, we took a simple three-legged dog, and Norm said something along the lines of, “if you always do the same thing in this posture, if it looks identical day after day, change something”. Disrupt the status quo in your own being. Involve the brain in what the body is doing.
It sounded like “change,” but he was talking about mindfulness. Pay attention to how these next seconds tick by; be in control of how the time progresses; actively participate in your existence.
At the end of class, I exchanged a few words with Norm, and expressed how much I had enjoyed the class. He responded with, “it was really special to have you here with us today”. While I’m sure he’s uttered that phrase many times over during the course of his teaching career, it sounded sincere and true in that moment. It reflected what I was feeling about the experience as well: that I had left routine aside to practice in a new way that afternoon, that I had deliberately connected mind and body, and that I had made a change, however small it may have been.