I roll over in bed at my 5:45 alarm, pull on the overpriced leggings I asked for for Christmas, grab my work bag packed with a change of clothes and a thermos of hot coffee, and head out into the cold. I’m only in the cold for about twenty seconds because the only reason I go to 6:00 am yoga is that the studio is across the street. I can leave my house at 5:59 and still be on time. It’s beautiful.
The studio is still thawing, so I leave my sweatshirt on for most of class, inhaling and exhaling through cat and cow, a sequence my students in Friday yoga club can’t do without giggling as they arch their backs and stick their butts towards the ceiling.
As my body and mind wake up, I try to refrain from making to-do lists in my head and wondering what time it is and if I will make the 7:15 bus because if I miss it I will be late to work. There are no clocks in yoga studios, of course. Just bricks and those shaded windows that allow the light from the rising sun but not the pedestrians to peek in.
I did a new client/new year yoga challenge and completed thirty classes in thirty days. I did it because the studio was across the street and doing an incentive program where I got the next two months at a discount if I completed the challenge. I also did it for personal fulfillment and to get stronger. I enjoyed the opportunity to test out my favorite instructors because the vibe of the instructor is very important to me.
I learn that some instructors are livelier than others. Holly tells us we are doing a beautiful job after each flow and emphasizes lifting your strong arms and rooting down through your strong legs. She has a contagious smile and doesn’t seem fake sweet or like she takes herself too seriously, so she becomes my favorite. Liam is a young skinny guy with shaggy brown hair who likes to make jokes about being from Staten Island during class. I looked up his bio and found out that he credits yoga with saving his life from alcoholism and juvenile delinquency. I’m a sucker for a good redemption story, so after I read this he immediately becomes my other favorite. One day after class instead of the traditional namaste, he says, “As a great yoga teacher once told me: We do the yoga so we’re less miserable to be around.” He laughs and some people in the class do too. I think he would laugh even if no one else did.
I’ve also recently been able to recognize that my need “test out” different instructors might have something to do with me most likely being a Type Six on the Enneagram.
If you aren’t familiar with the Enneagram, it is basically a system of nine distinct personality types. The description of your core number should resonate with your fears, passions, strengths and weaknesses. We also have numbers that reflect how we react in times of growth and times of stress. It’s more complicated than something like Myers-Briggs and it’s taken me a month to feel like I have a good handle on it.
Anyway, Sixes are anxious, like to be prepared, and take comfort in routines and find security in being supported by a strong community. They are fiercely loyal but are often skeptical of people when they first meet them. All me. Going to a bunch of yoga classes to test out which instructor they like the best is definitely a “six” characteristic, as is continuing to attend a class because they feel a loyalty to a particular instructor.
Sixes act like Nines in times of growth and when they are well-adjusted, and I also resonate with many of the characteristics of a Nine. It’s also possible that I could be a Nine who exhibits characteristics of a Six in times of stress. Nines like peace and rest and going along with things to make other people happy. But they also would do anything to avoid conflict, and I think engaging in conflict is necessary and inevitable, though often only because it will prevent future conflict. Another key trait of Nines is loving naps and not having a firm grasp on their own identity.
The also learned that both types particularly benefit from meditation and introspection. I hope yoga and writing count.
Caroline (Higgins) Nyczak (’11) lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends the vast majority of her time teaching English Language Arts. You may also find her at barre exercise classes or playing (and losing) at bar trivia. She continues to be inspired by the energy and diversity of New York City and the beauty of that certain slant of light.