Adventures in San Diego: Guerrilla Yoga

Adventures in San Diego

Part I: Guerrilla Yoga

San Diego was an interesting experience in many ways. So many ways in fact that I have to split it up into at least two or three posts. I started off with a buddy, and we flew from Raleigh to Phoenix (flight time: 5 hours of not so much fun). Then it was an hour from Phoenix to San Diego.

I was way prepared for this flight. I was expecting to take a 4:30 pm class that day at Bikram Yoga San Diego (more on that in Part II). I knew I needed to hydrate and eat well. To do this, I wore an actual watch (which I never do anymore) to keep track of how much time had actually passed as I traveled west across time zones. I knew I needed to keep up with my eating. I also brought my trusty hydro flask so I could keep track of my water intake. The hydro flask holds 40 ounces, and my goal was to drink 80 ounces by the time I left for class.

Upon arriving in Phoenix, my buddy and I landed ourselves a really fantastic lunch in the airport. I had a salad and a cheese quesadilla. Then we were off in search of our gate to get to San Diego!

Once we found our gate I realized I needed to do something about my back and overall body which was  stiff and tight from the five hours of sitting on a plane I had just done. Enter Guerrilla Yoga.

The concept of Guerrilla Yoga is simple: Do yoga in a public space. This was a suggestion the judges gave all the competitors after our competition was over. Practicing in front of people, strangers, is a great way to get comfortable with performing as well as distractions.   It helps you learn how to be comfortable in a crowd too.

This was the perfect time to implement some guerrilla yoga. I started with a simple camel pose.

None of these people seem impressed.

None of these people seem impressed.

I did five camel postures just hanging out on the dirty airport floor in front of my seat. Yes, the floor was dirty, but I chose not to care. My back, and my spine, loved me for what I was doing. It felt so good.

I decided I needed to document my first go around at guerrilla yoga, so I made my buddy do a photo shoot. People were not too interested in my camel posture. Possibly because this was about the 1000th time they’d seen me perform it.

Having gotten through camel, and taken some pictures, I was inspired to do more. Of course I had to do standing head to knee. next to the seating area there was a separate area with wheelchairs and no people. It was perfect because I would be out of the way of traffic but very much visible.

I honestly didn’t know what would happen in standing head to knee. I wasn’t warmed up at all and had literally just stuffed food in me. But whatever. I figured I’d see what I could do.

It took me three times, but on the third try I was able to kick out and get my head on my knee. Well, in the picture it looks a little off, but I think it’s pretty good for someone who just sat on a plane for five hours.

Performing standing head to knee in the airport was an experience. First, think about the first step. You bend a leg, reach down, and clasp your hands together underneath your foot (note: I am not a certified Bikram teacher. I get to explain the posture however I want). Doing just that much got people’s attention.

Then, I kicked out and locked my left knee. You would have thought I was totally in the posture by the reactions I got. People gasped and I got a couple “Oh my God.” My buddy was trying to take a picture, and I was trying to explain that I wasn’t ready for the picture yet.

I fell out the first time. I fell out the second time. The third time, I found my space for lack of a better word. Yes, I was aware people were staring at me and talking about me. However, I somehow managed to turn my attention inward and focus on my knee. I relaxed into it and went down. I held it. Even after my picture was taken I could have held it longer. I came up with control and released with control. Yes, the posture needs work, but I totally owned it.

Not to bad after a five hour flight!

Not to bad after a five hour flight!

 In performing this posture in public, I learned something interesting. I take these postures for granted. By that, I mean that while I can appreciate the beauty of them if I see anyone performing them I am rarely in awe of them – at least such is the case of the beginning series postures. I have allowed them to become a little too commonplace.

I have been thinking that standing head to knee is no big deal. I don’t mean doing the posture is no big deal. I think it’s a big deal to get your head to your knee! I think it’s a big deal to just kick out and lock your knee! What I mean that doing these postures has become so ingrained in my life that I forget how extraordinary they can be to an outsider and to us all.

When I fell out the first and second time, I was bummed. I wanted to do the posture. But later I realized that just by kicking out my leg and locking my knee I was offering something to those who watched. Even if I had never gotten as far as I did in the picture, I created a space for people to think about yoga. Maybe I inspired someone to look into it or talk to someone about it. I don’t know. Maybe people thought I was a crazy lady at the airport seeking attention.

My motives in doing guerrilla yoga were initially selfish and driven by the desire to serve myself. But I now have a glimpse, even if I am not articulating it well, as to the importance of guerrilla yoga in helping others. I think guerrilla yoga has the potential to do that even if it shifts someone’s thinking just slightly.

Coming up next: My adventures at Bikram Yoga San Diego! In the meantime, do you have experiences performing or watching guerrilla yoga? What was it like for you?

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