25 August 2012
This blog is a process not of deconstructing yoga, as much as deconstructing myself through the practice of yoga.
Yoga means “union” or “to yoke.” Through yoga we try to strengthen our physical body as well find that calm, centered place.
Through my 27-year practice I have experienced as much break down as I have building up. Challenging myself not just with the physical asanas but also with the philosophical and spiritual sides of the practice, I have realized I am a work in progress and will continue to be as long as I am on this path. And it is said that once on this path, once the mind begins to truly open and realize the self and the actual world it lives in, there is no turning off the path.
When I have been out of my practice I have felt disconnected, lost and weak, physically, spiritually and mentally. Not that my yoga practice is the be-all or end-all of my contentment, but it sure does help. Either through the asana practice or study of yoga, I have felt part of a community that endorses the self expression of life.
My first yoga class was in 1986 in a house basement turned studio. The instructor was a true yogi. I showed up wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. I had no idea what I was getting into. By the end of my second class the instructor told me I was a reincarnated yoga and that I was to teach. “Um… yeah. Exit please.” A few more months with this guy and I had I grasped the idea of the practice but really had no true understanding of what a practicing yogi was. I started reading. I moved to another state and didn’t find a yoga class that spoke to me. Even though I didn’t know what I was looking for, I knew what I didn’t want.This journey would last 17 years. After a 5 month Zen meditation practice in a Buddhist monastery, I began to get a notion of what a yogi could be and how I might attain that state of mind that would embrace that deep of a practice in yoga.
Yoga and Zen have similar mindsets. Do no harm, selflessness, responsible action and mindful living are the main goals in and of the practices.
I did my yoga asanas during the day and meditated twice a day in 45 minute sittings. Combining the two practices, I began to find a center and a balance that allowed me to finally feel at home within my self.
Years later I would befriend an aspiring yoga instructor and the door completely opened. I stepped through and the path to becoming a true yogi began, as true as one can attain in the life- style that our society can allow. It felt like a new beginning and that sensation would be repeated for many years through many different experiences.