October 9, 2013

8 More Dazzling Truths of Yoga Schmoga.

This world is your body. This world is a great school. This world is your silent teacher.

~ Swami Sivananda

When I first discovered yoga, I felt privileged with a secret spiritual path that would turn the awkward, adolescent me into vivacious woman.

I was 12 going on 13. The year was 1993.

In 1993, yoga was not part of the mainstream American culture; but it had been a fad in the 60s and 70s, which is why my mother owned a copy of Richard Hittleman’s 28-Day Yoga Exercise Plan, copyright 1969. The back cover of the pristine paperbook announced “the opportunity to look lovelier, feel better and remain younger—in just 28 of the most important days of your life.”

I’d never heard of yoga before. My mind was open, unfettered by judgments or concepts—Beginner’s Mind.

I whisked the book away to my bedroom and began reading. It was a monumental, life-altering moment—though of course, I didn’t know it at the time.

Every evening after family dinner, I’d retire to my room and consult its step-by-step photographs and instructions, which led me through 28 increasingly-challenging yoga routines.

Within a week, I felt a palpable shift within myself. It was motivating to teach myself to balance in headstand and to witness my spine and hamstrings gain elasticity. I felt the thrill of pride at having the discipline to practice every day.

Fast-forward 16 years.

When I met my friend Lynn in 2009, I asked her, “What kind of yoga do you teach?”

I asked, even though I never knew how to answer when people asked me that question. I would usually just say, “Hatha,” which is actually a very broad term.

I had to ask, because the yoga boom has spawned so many divergent branches of hatha yoga—from Bikram to Power Yoga to Jivamukti to Kundalini to Anusara and on and on. Partner Yoga. AcroYoga. Sweaty Yoga. Naked Yoga? I even saw an article on “doga,” once: yoga for dogs.

Anyway, to answer my question, Lynn leaned in close and whispered solemnly, “Oh, it’s a very esoteric form; you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s called Yoga Schmoga.”

I burst out laughing. Perfect answer. That’s when I became a devoted disciple of Yoga Schmoga.

In October of 2010—three years ago!—I started writing for elephant journal. My first blog was called The 8 Dazzling Truths of Yoga SchmogaI’ve recently revised and revamped the original eight truths. Without further ado, here is the official Yoga Schmoga Sutra:

1. All we need is love.

In addition to oxygen, water, food and shelter, we humans need love. We are all the same in that we need love in the forms of friendship, service, goodwill, loving kindness, romance, enthusiasm, compassion, companionship and devotion.

2. Practice is a process.

Yoga and meditation practice is an ideal laboratory for self-study. If your ego is ruling your practice, that’s not yoga. There will always be people “better” and “worse” than us. Continually dropping judgment of ourselves and others is key.

3. Yoga all the time.

The answer is always yoga. The more you do it, the better you get and the better you feel. The better you feel, the better you will be able to positively influence those around you.

What you carry off the mat is more than the mere benefits of asana practice. It is mindfulness in motion. It is communication, relationship, sustenance, openness, vitality. What if you practiced yoga nonstop?

4. All things must pass.

Although everyone has their own pain, we all share the same suffering. All suffering works backward from a fear of death. Yet knowing that we will all pass away and that nothing lasts forever is what makes life sweet. No matter how foul or fabulous the mood, it is bound to pass sooner or later. Ultimately, everything will.

5. Perfection is a myth.

There is no such thing as perfect balance. It’s okay to occasionally fall on your face. Strive for virtue but allow for failures. Be kind to yourself. As Dr. Seuss would say, you are the perfect you today.

6. Never stop learning.

Soak up knowledge, add experience, get wisdom. Everyone is a teacher. Pay close attention. The precious people in our lives—from parents to partners to passersby—are mirrors for the best and worst in us. Be thankful for them.

7. Balance self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Listen to your intuition. Turn your attention inward. Moment to moment, as much as possible, follow your natural flow of energy: sleep when tired; eat when hungry; dance when you feel like it. Don’t fight to be something other than you are. Know how you work and accept that you are in the right place at the right time. The path is the goal. Happiness is the journey itself.

8. Be. Here. Now.

Meditate for sanity, to become a beacon of peace, to cultivate compassion. Our only choice is to live in this present. We must accept this gift of a precious human life. Yoga Schmoga is a lifelong process.

Yoga Schmoga heightens my awareness of my connection to my own self, this amazing Earth, and every unique being upon it.

Yoga has given me the priceless gift of embodying the present moment without grasping at it. It can, and will, do the same for you.


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Ed: Sara Crolick

{Image courtesy of the author}

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