Why I’d have to be dragged kicking and punching into doing sun salutations? ~ Eric Dieterle

Via elephant journal
on Jun 25, 2012
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Yoga waits for me. I’m sure of it. And it’s been waiting a long time.

I’ve read about yoga, watched it being practiced, witnessed the transformation in a loved one’s demeanor after frequent application.

Yet with 54 just around the corner, I keep a safe distance even from a casual attempt at yoga. Consequently, my self-centered conflicts rage on. Conflicts fueled by a stream of anxiety, an unfocused mind, the absence of a practice. My emotional and spiritual struggles manifest themselves in the same lack of physical flexibility that has plagued me since youth. My body is stiff with anticipation of the next calamity, and I remain trapped inside it.

In my resistance, I arm myself with what I can remember from various forays into martial arts and I punish an inert foam-filled bag. I jab-cross it for my fears, Thai kick it for my anger and pound it with a Jo staff trying to free myself from the grips of stagnation and decline.

I fight my way out of whatever it is that life sends me, and afterward, panting and dripping with sweat, I am satisfied with the distraction. Nothing else changes.

This activity is all about fitness, I tell myself, as is running and working with weights. I wish there were a spiritual aspect to some of it—any of it—but the feeling isn’t there.

I confront the truth: Fitness takes the edge off but it isn’t buying me peace. As middle age settles in, I’ve been striving for a pattern of simplicity, to weave single-themed threads into a life that makes sense: husband, father, writer, worker.

To bring a spiritual practice into a physical one—a single thread—would go far to complete the plain, beautiful cloth of a life quietly led.

Somehow, I think I know that yoga is the answer. But not today.

I wish I could understand why I’m so afraid.


Eric lives and works in Flagstaff, AZ. He has published essays in journals of environmental literature and is a guest blogger at WillowsWept Review .



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4 Responses to “Why I’d have to be dragged kicking and punching into doing sun salutations? ~ Eric Dieterle”

  1. ~Jenny says:

    This may be what scares you: Facing your fears. Kino MacGregor has a great piece about how to attempt to face your fears like a Navy Seal:

  2. catnipkiss says:

    Everyone comes to yoga for a different reason. You can start it for fitness, and let it gradually lead you into the spiritual practice you admittedly crave. If you're a tough guy, try Bikram. Or Ashtanga. Even a regular vinyasa class might fill the bill. Explore. You won't automatically connect to your spiritual self through yoga, but it opens the door. Good luck, and write about it when you start; we will be waiting!! – Alexa Maxwell

  3. ericd says:

    Thank you mccubma and ~Jenny for the links, and catnipkiss for the advice and encouragement. I'll take you up on that offer to write about the experience after I try. –eric