This July 4th, Big Yoga Houston opened their studio for only one morning class—and the room was packed! They had every reason to expect a large crowd with their loyal following, but 97 yogis in one hot room may have exceeded even their greatest expectations. People were literally stacked mat-to-mat. As we sat waiting for class to begin, several of us had expressed reticence about the size of the crowd and the possibility of touching other sweaty bodies or them touching us. As several instructors squeezed extra mats between ours, we hoped that they would not be occupied by six-foot-plus sweaty guys! Our concerns of exchanging sweat with strangers were not conducive to inner peace and zen! Soon Nancy, one of the dynamic studio owners, managed to close the room door and began class by enthusiastically saying, “It’s crowded, so what! We’re gonna touch each other today, so what! It’s gonna get messy, so what!” Nancy encouraged each person to challenge themselves by adding “so what” to each thought or doubt that arose for them during their practice that morning. With that intention clearly stated, she began our practice by immediately having us place our sweaty legs on each other’s backs, our sweating hands on each other’s feet and balancing together arm over arm. It was an energetic, unique, and memorable practice. While the class was not what I had anticipated or thought I wanted, I left with an inner peace and zen created by a positive community and the nonjudgmental attitude of “so what!”
“So what” is not much different than other mindfulness practices. When we simply notice what we are thinking/feeling and challenge ourselves with “so what,” we are free to proceed however we see fit. I am stressed (so what)! I am hungry (so what)! I am angry (so what)! This sucks (so what)! At times we will choose to release a thought, at other times we will choose to explore it. Some thoughts will weigh us down while others offer opportunities for growth and expectation. “So what” is our pause. “So what” is our breath. “So what” is our opportunity to let go of destructive thoughts and feelings, and proceed feeling lighter, unencumbered andfree. And what could be a more appropriate mindset as we celebrate July 4th? Live Well/Be Well.