Ever wonder what “Namaste” means?
Namaste: A hindi greeting/saying: I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides, the place in you of light, of love, of truth, of peace,which is the same as the entire universe in me, a place of love, of—Oh my god, alright, already.
Sometimes it’s an effort to try to stop myself from rolling my eyes in yoga and laughing out loud. What is this, Moulin Rouge? Are we being swept up in a bohemian revolution? Which I guess it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, even if it means I can’t wear all black anymore. We all can get a little overzealous…
I know you, Allison-I-changed-my-name-to-Gayatri. You’ve been going to yoga maybe five months. You started wearing a jeweled bindi at your third eye. You went vegetarian for a week and a half, until you realized you couldn’t have In n’ Out. You’ve been contemplating moving to Topanga, or maybe Bali. You started shopping in the little store at the Hare Krishna Temple, where they sell sarongs and that inky charcoal eyeliner, the oily one that eventually runs down your face, leaving you looking like Uncle Fester. Maybe you ended up at In n’ Out, then (sort of) recommitted to the vegetarian thing.
India is laughing at you.
When I first started yoga over 16 years ago, I may have gone slightly nutty myself. I’m just a white chick from West L.A., and we never sat much around the dinner table discussing the Lotus Sutra or the benefits of composting. I never thought I’d end up working for a living with bare feet—but I did have every Beatles album. Does that count?
I know, you just want to tell everyone Enlightenment awaits and how to align their chakras. Try this (I dare you): go to 10 different Starbucks, and when they give you your coffee, bow in with your hands in prayer and give ’em a “namaste.” Pause for reaction. And make sure your new koi fish tattoo on your shoulder is visible. Report back.
Or, go to places with crowds of people. Take a friend. Look around; be super stealth. And when you see your chance, bust out a handstand or, if you’re feelin’ it, some sun salutations. Your friend is there to take photos and post them on Instagram with the caption, “Check it out! I just did Urdhva Dhanurasana on the handprints at the Chinese Theater!”
Yeah, I dare you.
This may come as a shock, but the physical practice of yoga has only been around for about 100 years. Did you really think they were doing “Wild Thing” back in the day, 5,000 years ago? Not that I’m knocking it, it’s one of favorite poses…but your karma isn’t going to take a nose dive if you can’t do it, or if you’re five minutes late to class one day, or if you don’t give any coin to the Ganesh, that greedy little elephant god. What’s that, you didn’t know that’s what he is? Isn’t it obvious? He’s in the feng shui “money” corner!
Over the years I’ve realized it’s not all sitar music and good vibes. So I ask: have you ever been to yoga class and…
Walked out? No offense, but I just can’t hang. But I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides…blah, blah, blah.
Been worried they could detect the scent of the American Spirits you may have secretly smoked last night? Well, I can smell ganja on them. I know a studio here in L.A. where they teach 4:20 Yoga. No joke.
Had no earthly idea of what they’re talking about because it’s in a completely foreign and sort of dead language? No one complained when Star Wars came out and we were all talking about Jedis and Wookies.
Wanted to burst out screaming in the middle of the Savasana? The silence can be frustrating, even confrontational. Frankly, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen all the time.
Answered your phone??? I’ve seen it happen.
Judged people who take it so serious? It’s not jury duty, y’all.
Constructed an altar for the Krishna statuette you got at a garage sale? You bet I have.
Found yourself in a pose you never thought you could achieve? Eka Pada Koundynasana 1, for example? Once I nailed it the first time, that pose became my bitch.
Cried in yoga class? Many times.
Couldn’t wait to go back? If I’m telling the truth, yes, I love it. I love it all.
I probably flash my peace fingers 20 times a day. My husband hates that inky eyeliner from the temple, but luckily Givenchy started selling it. I’m not afraid of my spine disintegrating into a pile of ashes, or my intervertebral discs drying up into hard, crackly hockey pucks. My organs don’t hate me. And the more new energy flows through me, the more I feel alive.
And if it’s good enough for George Harrison and Sting, it should be good enough for me.
And if you think this sitar song is about you, maybe our paths will cross one day…maybe we’ll find ourselves in a class together, side-by-side, in the shape of the Warrior.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise