The first gift received from crossing the doorway of a fitness class is embracing a sense of courage. Courage soothes the incessant questions about what is to come. There you are. The decision made. Bravery at its apex. Stepping into a new class is a call for silent appreciation of those already standing on their mats. To get up, get dressed, gather your mat, and step forth is an accomplishment. Everything that is to come is secondary to the boldness of standing in the unknown.

Within the room, come into the present. Pause to gather a sense of the immediate environment. Those already present are as curious of you as you are of them. You are the mystery yet to unfold. Find a place to unroll your mat. Claim that spot with a feeling of achievement. Bring to the class your body, your mind, your eyes, and your ears. Let concern be the catalyst that pushes open the opportunity of what is sure to go with the coming minutes. You choose to blend in or stand out. You choose to connect with your mat’s neighbors or seek the eyes of the instructor. You choose the quality and depth of your intention. Step onto your mat.

Quiet the chattering ego that emphasizes the gap between newness and experience. Calm the beating heart that seeks external instructions. Invite an internal rhythm for the breath to call each cell to dance with excitable joy. Check in with all the parts of you and any other pieces straggling behind. Let the lightness of you form a smile on your heart and face to hold and share.

Mat work is a call to all parts of you to make an appearance. To listen. Completely hear the words as they enter the mind and then translated into action. Your action. The body will respond in a way that best meets its needs. Your movement. Confusion arises when eyes wander to another’s interpretation of the same words. Who knows? Best to let the instructor “see” how the words received materialize than join in a wave of miscue.

Come into your body. The physical core is there at the belly button. Bring your attention there to explore the precise location of your true sense of center. The center is a place of balance. What is to be balanced is the full cadre of all the pieces of you. From the core, from the center, let the instructions spark an action that ripples out to the ends and edges of you. The breath is the first element to experience its unique contraction and expansion. Now the rest of the body follows.

The ability to walk away from a new experience with a balanced breath and calm body is an invitation to do it again. The ability to release what is no longer needed creates the smile on your face as well as those who surround you. Step on the mat. Breathe deep and let the weight of the world roll off your shoulders. Welcome to yourself.