January 8, 2013

Are You Really Doing Yoga?

Are you really doing yoga?

Oh, I know you are doing it on the mat; you have a great down dog, up dog, chaturanga, that type of thing. But do you let what you learn on the yoga mat have a place in your life?

Or do you simply plug away in your day-to-day business as usual?

Yoga saves me. Left to my own devices, I would not save myself. I am not kind…I would push my own nasty self off the cliff.

My days are filled with small disasters. A typical two-minute synopsis of my life goes like this:

My dog scratches the back door over and over to be let in. He has only been outside two minutes. There is no way he could have peed yet. I hate my dog. No I don’t. I love him. I should be a better dog owner and stand outside in the cold with him. Sadie’s mittens have gone missing even though I have torn apart the front closet. It is nine degrees out and I fear her kindergarten teacher will report me to the Department of Family and Child Services for neglect. I have no gas in my car and am not sure there is enough money on my card to get some.  Oh God, my butt is too fat and dirty dishes fill my sink. I should eat less. Then there would be less dishes. I am running late. There is no time.

Get it? I suck.

This is just my home scenario; don’t even get me going on my work scenario.

Disasters happen at my yoga studio moment-to-moment. Nothing is ever right; I feel as if I am getting zapped with lightening at every turn.

I do yoga. Sit down on my yoga mat, bare feet, lotus-like. Close my eyes and breathe. Why haven’t I gotten it right? Why am I still a self-deprecating untrusting mess?

And then it occurs to me: Do what you do in yoga. Take a deep breath. Get grounded. Get clear. Come into this moment and see and feel what is really happening. No one is dying here. Maybe some simple things need to be attended to.

No big deal.

In downward dog, my hands fan open and spread wide onto the yoga mat. I feel the ground. Even though it is two-stories down, the ground is still there, accessible even to the imperfect me. My hips push up to the sky and my thigh muscles hug bone. My yoga mat teaches me truth. The truth is: everything is okay in this moment. I am aware of my breath moving in and out, up and down.

I am hands, legs, feet, and spine.

Breath and sensation are what’s real. Everything else is a story and most of our stories come from the same book—the same chapter even. I realize there is no emergency happening. I’m not going to die if the teacher asks us to hold this pose longer. I will be fine if I have to jump forward into standing forward fold, and if I choose to come down into the comfort of child, I am not defeated.

I’m just a yogi in child. I know the truth of who I am—a simple woman in downward dog, doing yoga the best she can. When I realize this, I let my defenses down. Something inside me that is not physical, or perhaps it is, unwinds, and my harsh edges soften.

After yoga today, as I walked into Starbucks, a teenage girl made eye-contact with me; we shared a goofy smile.

I read on my phone that the children of Newtown are going back to school for the first time since the shooting; volunteers have worked around the clock to make the new school a healing and safe place.

The world can be like that—full of human connection and goodness. Our inner worlds can be the same. So simple. But you have to want it.

You have to want to be liberated from all the tiny inventive ways we make ourselves suffer. You have to believe. You have to prioritize what you internally subscribe to. We don’t need to hold an imaginary gun to our heads every time something screws up, disappoints or doesn’t go our way.

Every time something happens and doesn’t line up with how we think things should, it doesn’t mean we need to hit the panic button.

Sometimes there are emergencies—real ones, where we need to keep ourselves together. We all get that.

But for now, my sweet fellow yogis, let’s choose a different reaction to every day life other then judgement, self-deprecation, addiction or whatever else your fear-based racket is. Let’s do real life, like we do the yoga mat.

Breathe in and out and attune to the honesty of the moment. Let’s allow our yoga to live in the world, not just while we do sun salutations.

As yogis, we all have the skills to choose clarity, kindness and grounding.

We know how to let our small bitter whiny selves go and be better than that. So let’s do it and hold our hands and hearts in an imaginary namaste offering our goodness.

Why not? The world needs it; it needs me and it needs you, to be the kind loving people we are.

This is why we do yoga.



Ed: Bryonie Wise

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