It’s too late—I’m addicted to yoga now and there’s nothing I can do but move forward.
It was not an intentional path that brought me here.
Years ago, my wife tried to get me to join her on the mat. Being the good old fist fighting southern boy, I “pooh-poohed” the idea. I was raised down south by small town folks who had moved to the big city. Most of my male role models were the macho types that lived by the “take no crap off nobody” mantra.
As a young man in the U.S. Navy I would “bump into it” reading Eastern Philosophy while my ship plied the South China Seas. Instead of yoga, however, I became interested in the martial arts and dabbled on and off for years. I started up in earnest at the nearest dojo when my son was diagnosed with bone cancer a couple of years back.
I practiced Krav Maga for about 90 days until I blew out an old shoulder injury. I limped back to Tai Chi Chuan where I began slowly, painfully to connect with the concept of mind, body and spirit. Looking to gain flexibility, I tried some yoga from that martial point of view. Slowly but surely it started to happen.
The mat began to “call my name.”
I evolved from Qi Qong and Tai Chi Chuan to more and more yoga in the darkness of predawn. I then read Paramahansa Yogananda’s treatise Autobiography of a Yogi.
The search for serenity had, over the years, become essential to my existence. I needed to calm the savage beast within me. Stumbling upon a 5000 year old scientific process that promised spiritual realization in the here and now was humbling. I knew I was reading the truth. I began to study and practice with abiding hope, compassion and awareness.
Asana has become a bridge to awakening and I know today that I’ve found a life’s calling. I don’t mean to say I will become a teacher, necessarily, but this is what yoga gives to us.
It shines a light on a path of realization in all facets of our existence. It peels back layers to expose powers greater than ourselves.
Yoga promises physical, emotional and spiritual awakening to anyone who will try, one day at a time, to engage their innermost hopes and dreams for a world larger and more beautiful than any we may have thought possible.
For this “ol’ Southern boy,” there truly is Heaven here on Earth. It has been a wayward path to get here, but each day I’m beckoned to that 68 x 24 inch mat that I spatter with the sweat of my dreams.
The truth is endless. I need only engage faculties with balance, focus and the steady will to improve in increments. The path is clear. I look forward to meeting you there.
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Assistant Editor: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant journal archives