I've spent some time the past few days talking about yoga. First, to folks who have inquired about my upcoming classes. Also, to folks in the intro class that I am assiting at. And today, to people calling to talk about intro to yoga classes at the studio (I was subbing for the studio manager and a lot of her work involves talking to prospective yogis, especially when its intro class time)
So, tell me about yoga......what do you get out of it? What brings you back to the mat each day?
I am a spirit living in this body. And for years, most of my life really, I was not so happy about that. This body was wrong - the wrong size, the wrong flavor, too clumsy, unattractive. This body was like the car you inherited from an aging aunt - transportation for this spirit, but not something to care too much about.
Somehow, in the past few years, I have come to a different relationship with this body. Today, it is a most precious gift. A marvel of design and engineering, with intricate processes: breathing, digestion, heating and cooling, fighting off illness and infection. It can do some pretty amazing things - balancing, lifting, twisting. It has continued to serve me despite many years of neglect. And I have come to recognize that sometime in my past, my spirit floating in the ether, got the message it had waited so long for: there is a body for you. A life for you to live. Sensations. Emotions. Pleasure. Pain.
So yoga. It is a chance for this spirit, to reconnect with this body. To turn down the volume of the mind, chattering away with things of great import, and things of the least significance. To explore the abilities, as well as the limitations of these bones, these muscles. To feel heat rise, and sweat build. To explore breath, and feel this heart pumping.
I am fortunate - I have tasted truth; I know what I am. So yoga is a chance to explore that truth, to be alone with it, to sometimes actively ponder it, and at other times to simply sit with it and see what comes up.
Yes, talking to new students - its hard to communicate that. Instead, we talk about flexibility. About breath. About calmness and stress reduction. About blood pressure. It's all a bit of a lure. Yeah, you get those things. But really, you come to the mat hoping for a little piece of truth. It's all about preparing the way - plowing, weeding, watering, planting - in the hope that something will grow. Quieting the mind. Soothing the body. Practicing stillness during crisis. And maybe, just maybe, the truth will see a small quiet place, temporarily, in your life, and drop lightly onto the shore.
I live for those moments....