August 26, 2013

The Redneck Yogi. ~ Jenna Penielle Lyons


I grew up in a town full of horses, dirt bikes, trailer parks, and Budweiser.

Buddha said that in the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.  

I grew up in Idaho braiding horse hair, fishing, shooting BB guns and making crowns out of tall grass.

When there was nothing to do in Pocatello, kids would drive their Jeeps and trucks around on BLM roads and drink Coors Light, Miller Light, Keystone Light or Budweiser. I know people who have more than 50 guns and who are stocking up ammunition in response to Obama’s gun control laws. Racism is alive and well in some circles in Pocatello. My high school was full of rednecks and cowboys, children of meth users and a large LDS population that [diametrically] opposed everyone else. The Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo comes to Pocatello every year, and the Monster Truck rally occurs indoor in the Holt Arena every year as well. People wear Wranglers and cowboy boots or carpenter pants and tennis shoes. The Shoshone-Bannock Indian reservation is a few miles away, and many people gamble at the casino located there. One of the mountains, through its name has been changed several times, is still called Chink’s Peak. The nicest restaurant in town is located about 30 feet from the railroad. The railroad runs through the center of it all.

To some, Pocatello might seem like the most destitute, politically and ideologically polarized, dusty and boring place on the planet.

You have to find the beauty wherever you are, and find a way to ignore negativity. Growing up in Pocatello taught me how to be accepting, tolerant, open to change, and most importantly, compassionate. If Buddha wore a cowboy hat and rode a horse, he would have lived here to teach the dharma.

And the beauty of the dharma is alive and well in Idaho—and all the Western United States. If you look to the south of Pocatello, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest lies almost completely untouched and quiet, full of sentient beings in the form of native wildlife. I spent my adolescence trail running and mountain biking on those trails in the hot desert sun. If you read the things I write, you’ll see hundreds of pictures of me and my dog romping around on dirt trails.

I take pictures of storms, sage flats, me in my cowboy boots and flowers. You have to find your own sense of majesty in whatever landscape you happen to inhabit.

Yet, in all of Pocatello’s western grandeur, there is a thriving sense of underground diversity that is waiting to spring forth. On Main Street, there is a Greek restaurant, a Himalayan restaurant and a Thai eatery. The best bowl of chile verde is made at a place called El Herraderro, and three yoga studios now hide in various sectors of town. A small co-op is waiting to be successful, and a tiny sangha, a mosque and a Jewish center of worship exist for those who don’t belong to agnosticism, Catholicism, or Mormonism. An awesome ski hill and a nordic center sit just south of town, making Pocatello a winter sports mecca. The basalt cliffs that ribbon their way throughout Pocatello? All bolted and climbable. A ballet school and several other dance schools and martial arts centers dot the town, making Pocatello a place where children of all talents can develop and grow artistically. A greenway is in the process of being built along the river. Several arts festivals occur throughout the year, and beautiful hot springs surround Pocatello in every direction.

There is a lot to do here if you look for it.

And I won’t ever hide the fact that I grew up in Pocatello… it’s who I am. Though I love yoga, sushi, wine, astronomy and painting, I also love corn dogs, shooting guns, drinking PBR and riding horses. Though I studied English Literature, I will always speak with somewhat of a redneck twang. I studied classical piano and blues guitar throughout childhood. Though I love a stroll by the river and skipping stones, I equally love a stroll next to the railroad tracks and throwing beer bottles at them.

This morning I did yoga with dirty feet and some cutoff denim shorts.

I am just as intrigued by a book of cowboy poetry as I am a collection of Rumi poems. I love a beautiful shot of espresso in a Kleen Kanteen mug just as much as I love an alpine mug full of fire-boiled mud coffee inundated with grounds and pine needles.

I listen to Townes Van Zandt and Ravi Shankar with equal fervor, and the crusty Jeep Cherokee I drive has a tiny golden Buddha hanging from the rearview mirror.

Your temple can truly be anywhere because the sun rises and sets in all cities every day.

Whether you ride around on a horse, on an elephant or on a fixed gear bicycle, we all have things in common. To live in an environment where your idea of mindfulness is not practiced is one of the greatest things you can do to test yourself in the integrity of your own practice of mindfulness!

There is room in this world for everyone to have a yoga mat, and on that yoga mat, you can do and think about whatever you want. Maybe your mat is covered in prickly pear. Maybe it has lotus blossoms around it. Maybe it is dusty. Maybe it is completely clean. It’s your space, and you can be whoever you want to be in that space… because that space is in your own head. That’s the meditation I live every day.

And I won’t ever hide it, because it’s all I’ve got.

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick

{photos: via Jenna P. Lyons}



Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Jenna Penielle Lyons  |  Contribution: 8,640