I am embarrassed to say it happened again. I didn’t know what word I was going to use today, even though yoga is one of my four primary, regular, spiritual practices. I started brainstorming a list: yawn, yesterday, yes. I got as far as opening my dictionary to “y” and as soon as I saw that first page of words, I thought “yogi” and immediately after came the next thought: yoga. D’oh!
So again, I suppose it’s that thing about fish and water, it’s such a part of your world, your life, your environment that it becomes oddly invisible.
Yoga grounds me in my body, centers me there. As in other practices, the act of doing it regularly teaches me a lot about myself. I learn how I spend too much time comparing myself to others, judging and evaluating, and I realize that the practice, the experience isn’t about competition at all, with anyone. It’s about the reality of what is happening on my own mat, about cultivating compassion.
Some days, I move fluidly, am flexible and strong, can balance in tree for a full five minutes, can hover in crow or hold a headstand with confidence. Other days, I come to the mat shaky and raw, irritable, stiff and weak, one side works but the other needs extra understanding and gentleness.
And other times, I can trust my body, but my mind is a mess, a wreck, a wild animal. It won’t stay with me on the mat. It keeps wanting to rush off or draw me in to long conversations or even arguments. I stay with it, stay on the mat, and hope it will settle, be still. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t and instead spends the whole practice in another room, another moment, another universe.
For me, yoga is meditation in movement. I expand the breath focus of sitting meditation to include my whole body, moving my awareness as my body moves from pose to pose. It expands the practice of training my mind (as in sitting meditation) to training my body and mind to be in the same space at the same time, moving together.
I’ve been struggling a bit with my yoga practice lately, feel a bit stuck and bored, but more importantly I have been struggling with my body. As it ages, I have entered a new phase of being that is utterly confusing. I haven’t quite learned how to care for my 44 year old body. It’s needs are so starkly different. It feels fatigue in a way I have never experienced. I work to be gentle with my Happy Buddha belly, trying to see it’s roundness as lucky, rather than stubborn and ugly. I try to be compassionate towards this body’s need for rest. I really want to understand what it needs from me, I want to not just love it, but to care for it in a way that allows it to thrive.
I contemplate impermanence, cultivate gratitude for the chance to get older, a chance so many others will never have. I also remember that this “old” body will be the “young” one I remember later, maybe even mourn, and that my sense of age is relative.
And I practice, strong in warrior pose one day, needing to rest in child’s pose the next, accepting whatever my current reality might be, and when I am done, I dedicate the merit of my practice, offering it so that suffering might be dispelled.
Namaste, kind and gentle reader. The divine nature within me perceives and adores the divine nature within you. I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, light, peace and joy. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.