I am now more than a month into my Yoga Revival. It began with a free outdoor class on the Solstice, which was the first international yoga day as declared by the United Nations last December. My goal was to have a ‘regular yoga practice” – and so far I do! Woo-hoo!!
“Talk to me in a year,” immediately pops into my head. “It’s only been a month.” In my adult life I’ve had periods of serious dedication to yoga – but moreover, I’ve been rather a dabbler. Particularly over the past 8 years since becoming a father.
Many people have been surprised. They assumed since I’m part owner of a yoga supply company that I must do yoga regularly. I did at times in my life. And, I suppose in my mind I have told myself that I am practicing yoga daily. Generally I do – even if just for a tiny piece of the day while waiting for the microwave, or the water to boil. And there are times when I am waiting in line for something, and feel a little impatience starting to grow, and turn inward, and listen to my breath, while staring at a little speck on the wall (“drishti” definition here. Source: Drishti Yoga Journal article)
On a particularly turbulent coast to coast plane ride the other day a thick line of people formed in front of me when the air smoothed out and seatbelt sign finally went off. It was a big claustrophobic crowd in the aisles, then a dad and his toddler cut the line, and we were all trying not to look at each other, and it felt like the oxygen might be running low in that tight little space. I logged about 10 minutes of meditation, and almost took a picture of my drishti point, or some sort of selfie, but I feared someone might wrestle me down in the aisle because of suspicious activity. People were probably already a bit suspicious by the way I was smiling about this.
I believe these are valid, very useful moments of yoga practice. There are 8 limbs to Yoga after all, lest we forget. Here is a good description of them by Yoga Journal: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/the-eight-limbs/
Reading over this reinforces something I know and love about yoga. It is BIG. And it is comprehensive. It is spiritual. I’ll never forget when my East coast Catholic mother was visiting in San Francisco in the late 90’s, and she was flipping through the Yoga Sutras sitting on the couch. I thought she might be just judging that here was further evidence of my deepening plunge in hippy oblivion. But much to my surprise, she was pleased by the similarities in the messages of the Yoga Sutras to what she had learned in church all those years. Her acceptance made me so happy.
For my purposes now – I am NOT looking at the BIGNESS of yoga. When I set out for a Yoga Revival in June, I intentionally set my sights on small (half hour) increments of yoga per day. When I first started practicing yoga regularly in the early 1990’s I was recovering from having a disk (hastily) removed from my lower back (L4-L5). My yoga teacher friend visited and showed me a SHORT yoga routine that took roughly a half hour, stretching and strengthening muscles all around my back, without straining it. She made some crude stick drawings to ensure I remembered the poses. A week into this, I felt the results, and kept doing it, and the results got better and better.
The briefness of this practice (25-45 minutes) helped me to DO IT DAILY back then. But even so, when I eventually felt like I’d never had a back problem – I quit doing yoga so regularly. I have discovered through my conversations with injury prone friends and physical therapists that most people stop doing their rehab exercises once they feel better – even though these are often meant to go on and on to help prevent further injury. So my conclusion is it’s our nature to take the easy way out, and so – for now at least – I need to “fight gravity” – to keep this yoga practice “regular.”
One of the best examples of fighting gravity is when my alarm goes off in the morning. Seattle’s cool nights make for some sweet sleep – so given the choice between staying in my warm comfy bed and getting into downward dog – I’m going to need some motivation to beat gravity.
Today gravity and the snooze button won for an hour, but I finally staggered to the mat, and salvaged a good 40 minute practice before work. Which means no full belly meditation tonight. And also, I have felt a balance and peacefulness from it, which might be the motivation I need to make tomorrow’s fight against gravity a bit easier.
Posted under Health and Fitness, Meditation, Styles of Yoga, Yoga Supplies
This post was written by David on July 29, 2015