The ruthless Australian sun was shining hard on my back as I struggled to keep up with the whirlwind of my first yoga class at Wanderlust Sydney. Ten minutes in, I was cursing the hot sun, my black mat and myself for not properly reading the class description.
“I’m really sorry I didn’t look this AGOGA thing up!” I breathlessly yelled to my friend Jenn, as I jumped through the squats, lunges, and burps. They call this the “AGOGA Experience.” Although I had read online that AGOGA was an exercise program that promoted efficient, natural movement, I certainly wasn’t expecting a boot-camp workout.
“Put your mind in your muscles!” called out one of the instructors.
By the time we began our cool-down, I was dripping sweat and feeling slightly delirious.
“Find your turtle,” another instructor said. Turtles have poor eyesight, but their heightened physical sensitivity makes up for it. They are feelers, aware of where their body is in the present moment. “What does your turtle do? “Where does your turtle go?”
After AGOGA, I knew my turtle was ready to spend the entire day lounging in the Shala, beneath the shade of the giant fig trees native to Sydney.
Finally. Savasana. My mind focused on an old Native American legend about why the turtle goes underground during the winter. I’d first heard it many years ago. The story goes: a generous bird tried to fly a turtle to warmer weather for the winter. The turtle, unfortunately, couldn’t enjoy her ride without worrying about where exactly they were going, and when they would arrive. Distracted by her own anxiety, the turtle fell from the bird’s grip and landed on the cold, hard ground, where she then burrowed in the dirt to hide from the icy temperatures.
Far too focused on what was coming next, not only did the turtle fail to enjoy the present moment, but she failed at making it to her next destination, too. And so it goes for yoga: the more unfamiliar a class is, the more I’ll worry about what’s coming next. But when we don’t quite know where we’re headed, we have a choice. We can choose to fully experience the journey, no matter how long the road may seem.
A digital media assistant for Wanderlust, Katie Doyle joined the team while traveling southeast Asia. A month after graduating from college, she took her journalism degree on a tour around Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. A writer at heart, she lives for the moments when a good story pops in her head – especially when it happens during savasana. In addition to practicing yoga, she is a ski instructor who loves sunshine just as much as she loves snow.