One twenty-something femme, one yoga practice, split between the Plains and the Pacific.
Don't fail at being a grown-up, yoga it up daily, meditate daily
Ready, set, GO!
Bryan is traveling around teaching this week, so we had a different instructor today. It made me surprisingly jittery, knowing that my class would be different. Which made me realize that I’ve dug myself into a little bit a of a ditch here- I’ve gotten too used to doing yoga with a large number of people and I’ve gotten way too used to one instructor. When I head back to school in February, there’s not going to be a big class every day with a fabulous instructor. If I’m really lucky, I’ll get into one of the classes that the College offers, but if I’m realistic, the classes are incredibly popular and the waitlist is a mile long. There’s a studio in town that offers non-beginner classes on some days, they’re not exactly affordable. So more often than not, after this glorious month is over, its going to be me and my mat rolled out in the middle of my dorm room. Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy practicing alone. But that’s been the beauty of this project- finding other people to practice with. Doing yoga with my cat in Italy was great. But how amazing to come back home and find all these people who are interested in the same thing, at various stages along the yoga path, various skill levels, all different ages. I think I’m beginning to realize what a gift this project has been, and what a difference it has made in my yoga practice to feel so supported, to have such structure as a naturally scattered, pro-procrastinator type of girl. It’s going to be an interesting adjustment, and an important one I think, to come back to a solitary practice and maintain some of that structure.
FINALLY WELL! Its amazing what my body went through these past few days. To have felt so incredibly weak after a month of feeling so strong, it was like I felt the change in my body tenfold. Ever muscle felt transparent, shot; every movement took so much effort. Ahh it feels so good to feel better! And its so beautiful out today! I’m starting to dread going back to the snow and the cold and the wind and the ice in Ohio. But I know that winter is never as bad as I remember. I rolled out my mat in my backyard and did and hour and half of relatively strong practice in the sun. I took my time, but I could feel how much my body wanted to be moving and getting strong again. Certain poses felt really restorative today, others I found new resistance in. My balance was really great today. I felt really clear headed and focused. My hips were incredibly tight, so I spent a while doing some hip openers. While I was in Savasana, this super friendly chubby cat in my neighborhood came up to the front porch to lay in the sun on our steps. Whenever she comes over, she stands by the door and meows and meows and meows, trying to coax someone- anyone- outside to play. I sat for a few minutes after I finished my yoga and did some metta practice, and then went out around the house and sprawled out with her on the steps for an hour reading, just soaking up the warmth and loving a little fat creature climbing all over me.
BBC Radio- 1.31.11
As I’ve been exploring what the Interweb has to say about yoga today, I’ve also been feverishly trying to finish reading Surendranath Dasgupta’s classic Yoga as Philosophy and Religion. Tonight in particular, I’ve found the contrast between his words and today’s yoga scene mind-boggling. Dasgupta writes of the metaphysics of yoga, and explores deeply the finer points of yogic ethics. This is the third book about yoga I’ve read this month, and in some ways is the most dense. Trying to understand an entirely different system of universal construction is no picnic! But the more I struggle to get a firm grasp on everything Dasgupta covers, the more appreciation I gain for the richness- culturally, physically, and intellectually- of the yogic tradition. Yet as soon as I close the book, as I walk or lightly hop to the front of my mat in class, I’m greeted with the Lululemon label on the butt of the woman in front of me. The LA trendy part of me aches for those beautiful, beautiful, top of the line pants. But how the hell does Lululemon fit in with the ‘real’ message of yoga? There are so many people out there with strong feelings about whether or not yoga is intrinsically and inextricably intertwined with spirituality, with Hinduism. A ‘traditional’ teacher in the BBC Radio segment I posted believes that he and fellow traditionalists “have been marginalized” by the commercialism and athleticism of contemporary, popular yoga. I’m personally really not sure how I feel about these tensions between those who lay claim to ‘original’, ‘authentic’ yoga, and those like Tara Stiles who wish to advocate a yoga that is ‘reader-friendly’. I generally feel that consumerism and yoga make really strange, dysfunctional bedfellows. I find that I can’t help but cringe when people entirely write off the spiritual side of yoga, and view it solely as a great workout. But I find the view that if you don’t know Hinduism and yogic philosophy back to front, you’re not practicing ‘real’ yoga to be incredibly, and unacceptably elitist. I think yoga is poised to have such a positive impact on our world, on our individual lives and on the global community. I’m so intrigued by the idea of yoga as a form of activism. But that begs the question too- is that what it was meant to be, was that its original intention? Yet who writes the rules about how time and space are ‘allowed’ to change ideas? Who gets to decide the nature of, as the NY Times put it, “yoga’s soul”?