I’m a yoga teacher in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia on the outskirts/border of hipster northern inner Melbs.
To some it’s multicultural, to others it’s seedy, sometimes referred to as Prestonia and at its lowest ebb, Depreston.
But I like it and I especially like my own backyard yoga racket I have created just to make ends meet—for now, you understand—until I “make it” in the fast-moving, trend-setting popular world of yoga as we know it. It is, I assure you, quite the opposite of my neighbor’s backyard business. Anyway, no cops rapping on my door at ungodly hours…yet.
Like many other teachers of yoga, I fashionably dropped out from the dog-eat-dog, often corporate, world of film and television to take on that premature mid-life crisis challenge of finding myself, my purpose and my eight hours of sleep I felt I deserved—minus the insomnia or the wretched headaches from having drunk too much at “wrap”.
Let’s face it, I was exhausted, unfulfilled and life was slowly spinning out of my control as I got older by the millisecond. Youth is so wasted on the youth and anyone who hasn’t had kids.
So, I got off the roller coaster.
My decision was made as a result of 9/11, but we’ll save that story for another time.
The morning of 9/11, my boyfriend hopped into bed in the early hours of the morning, having just flown in from the states. He said to me, “Honey, the world will never be the same again.” I answered, “Yeah, yeah.” He was a conspiracist and it was not uncommon for him to spout such theories regardless of time of day. So I rolled over…but he persisted. “No I’m serious. Someone has just flown into the Twin Towers and the frickin’ world will never be the same again. The shit is going to hit the fan.”
It took days for me to really understand the depths at which he spoke. He was right; the world has escalated into a dizzying state of panic. World leaders are encouraging people to be suspicious, untrusting, and racist—all under the guise of “conquering terrorism”. So now more than ever humans are acting out of fear, chasing our tails for fear that we will be left behind if we don’t succeed in our chosen careers, if we don’t lose that three kilos, if we don’t make that yoga practice, if we don’t complete the perfect family picture or that newly renovated warehouse conversion with all the right trimmings.
We are forgetting who we are and casting judgments on those less fortunate than ourselves, those who come from poverty or war-torn countries seeking safety and peace for their families and loved ones. Again, world leaders are encouraging us to separate ourselves from our refugee sisters and brothers less fortunate in crisis.
We are cutting down forests, polluting our water and air, so that the unthinkable may happen and our children and grandchildren may not bloody have any to drink, or breathe in!
We could go on and on couldn’t we?
Duncan, my teacher of yoga arts academy, reminded me often of the human propensity to act out of one of three ways.
Which is it going to be I ask myself at any given time that I remember?
An act out of fear
An act out of obligation
Or an act out of love
Again I ask myself this when I remember to stop, to contemplate—it doesn’t always happen that way. But if I were to ask myself this question when I toss about whether I am going to take time out of my day to be present with Cocoa (aha that old chestnut—being present—the essence of yoga, the real yoga practice) and take her to the park. If I really thought about it, like properly thought about it, I just would. It would be an act of love not just for her but for us. I then wouldn’t hesitate, but too often I do it out of obligation… (Oooh shit, I haven’t played with Cocoa for a few days now. I’m a crap mum. I should do that. I’ll just take her up to the park.) And inevitably out of obligation, she will have an okay time as I text a few people, put together a shopping list on my phone and ooh and aah at the appropriate intervals.
Or each time I struggled with when or if to practice, I guarantee if I took the time to think it over I would get on the mat as an act of love for myself. The admin or endless hours of computer work, the vacuuming or cleaning or shopping ain’t going to change my life not like the past seven years of practicing yoga have.
Life is too precious. The key to happiness is not green smoothies, cut abs, Bali yoga retreats, or tan boots. It’s love, love and love—for ourselves and connection with others (or our other selves).
But hey, let’s not take it all too seriously either.
Cut me some slack, I’m merely human. They say you’re half-way there if you can admit to your short-fallings.
Number one, I’m human, but I’m having a red-hot shot at it and having fun trying. Then there’s the art of not knowing. It’s a beautiful thing. (Thanks, Osho.)
It’s all going to be okay.
Can you cut me some more slack?
You see, I’m only human and I’m likely to ask again.
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Asst Ed: Terri Tremblett/Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Philip Werner