February 2, 2011

Yoga is Mulch. That’s Right. I Said “Mulch”.

Yoga Is Mulch For Our Lives.

Perhaps it’s the piles and piles of snow that we’re currently buried under, but I find myself thinking and daydreaming about gardens. Right now, my garden isn’t much to look at. It looks empty of life — earth covered by a blanket of snow. But beyond what I can see, I know that the earth is soft, rich and life-sustaining. I know my perennials are sleeping soundly deep within it, gaining energy and strength from the nutrients in the soil, preparing to burst forth when spring arrives in a few months.

It’s easy to think about gardens as metaphors for life, especially in the spring time when all the little plants are stretching up into life. But now, in the heart of winter, I find the metaphor less certain. It seems obvious that we’re the plants – whether we’re growing above ground or sleeping below. However, what is the soil? What is it that feeds us so profoundly and so completely? What is it that we’re rooting into and growing out from? Is it love? Is it a desire to add to all that is good in this world? Is it trust and faith in God and our place in God’s world? Yes, yes and yes. And there are probably a million other answers to that question which haven’t occurred to me.

An element of my winter garden whose metaphorical partner is crystal clear to me, however, is the layer of mulch buffering the dormat plants from their freezing blanket of snow. Yoga is the mulch. Yup. Mulch.

In the winter, mulch covers the soil to protect sleeping, waiting, gestating plants from the harsh, cold days and nights. In the spring, mulch supports the tender shoots as they eagerly reach for the sun’s light, often growing tall before they have enough strength to hold themselves upright. In the summer growing season, mulch holds water to sustain the plants despite the sun’s hot, drying rays and keeps out weeds that threaten to weaken the plants. By coming again and again to our mats, we are mulching our “garden.” Our practice protects us during harsh, tough times; supports us during times of growth and change; and feeds us and keeps us focused during all times of life. Yoga is our mulch.

By acting as the mulch in the gardens of our lives, yoga is creating and supporting shifts and changes and connections deep within us. We sleep better when we’re practicing. We live better when we’re practicing. We grow more eagerly when we’re practicing. We face our challenges with more courage when we’re practicing. We maintain our awareness of our community and the world around us better when we’re practicing. We carry our faith and beliefs with us into life better when we’re practicing. We do all this because we are, like plants in an unfathomable garden, supported and nurtured and protected by our practice as we grow and bloom in our lives.

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