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    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Yoga Meets You Where You Are

    Recently I read a couple of other blogs by yoga teachers and their thoughts on what yoga is. Here are the links to them--they are great quick reads if you want to learn more:

    I like these blogs and I agree with these teachers on some points, but I hear a sense of frustration in their voices. They are frustrated about what yoga has become in Western culture and wondering if students are "getting it."

    First of all, I love our culture! I have learned to embrace it and I see more and more beauty everywhere around me the longer I practice. Our culture has taken yoga and created a beautiful thing. There is nothing wrong with evolution. The evolution of yoga and everything is inevitable--I am not a traditionalist at all though. When I look around and see how yoga has blossomed through this country, I am uplifted. I see that people are becoming more open-minded and more into taking care of their minds and bodies--its a beautiful thing. Those people could be out there doing all sorts of things in life, but they are practicing yoga! How wonderful. Whether they ever "get it" or not is up to them.

    Secondly, who are we to judge what others are getting out of yoga? Here is my story for example:

    I started practicing yoga when I was 19 (that was in 1991)--I was basically a mess, and something in the yoga classes was working on me. At the time, I had no idea what I was searching for in yoga--all I knew was that I felt better. I did not practice anything in yoga except the postures and I did not seek answers--somehow I trusted that they would come to me one day if I just did the postures. Years went by and slowly, very slowly, I began to see things differently and to change. After a final bout with a crazy drug addiction, the yoga really started to work--I kicked the drug addiction and anorexia and completely turned my life around. You know, I guess some people would have scoffed at me coming to yoga class appearing to get nothing out of it--maybe they wondered why I bothered--maybe they judged me. But you see, all I could do at the time was the postures, and slowly, oh so slowly, over time the lessons seeped into my being and today I enjoy the benefits of this wonderful practice that gave me my life back.

    So, I have experienced first hand that yoga can work on you wherever you are--don't exasperate yourself worrying about if you or others are "getting it" or not. If you want it, you'll get it eventually and if you don't then noone can make you. Just know you are beautiful wherever you are in life and whatever culture you come from. Believe me, I have spent my time hating this and judging that, but over time, I am learning to let that go and spend more time loving myself, life, and others. As a teacher, when I watch my students just blindly show up for class and go through the motions of the poses appearing to get nothing out of it, I have to remind myself of this journey that I had. I know that as long as you keep practicing, you will find what you are looking for, and if you aren't looking for anything except for more flexible hamstrings, that is fine too. But if you keep practicing, you will be blown away. Just be patient.