Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beginner Yogi's

I remember the first time I stepped on a yoga mat. It was blue and I laid it out in my living room in front a TV cued with Rodney Yee. My husband had just left for a deployment to the Middle East after the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and I was left, for the first time, to parent three young children in a town far away from “home”. I was scared, unsure, and sad.

On that mat, I practiced, for the first time, poses like Mountain, Bow, and Bridge. I experienced heat and resistance and then practiced the skill of staying still under the strange new feelings. When I finished, there was a vibration deep in my body. At the time, I just recognized it as something strangely enjoyable. And I went back to that mat, again and again through that entire deployment to capture that oddly pleasant sensation.

Today, I call that feeling strength, mindfulness, grace, and joy. It is what I practice now, as a more seasoned yogini, with much greater depth and intensity. I explore the edges of my yoga practice to find more strength, more mindfulness, more grace, and more joy. When I find them, I rejoice.

These characteristics of mind and body I now use off of my mat to meet the obstacles of each day. I find these obstacles readily and they can look like this:
  • ·     an unexpected mess in the kitchen
  • ·     an email from Husband saying he's leaving the country for a month
  • ·    a car that won't start the day after Husband leaves the country for a month
  • ·     a lost remote control
  • ·     an unexpected call from the doctor saying to come for more tests
  • ·     your sad child whose dreams just fell to pieces
  • ·     a crazy-hair day
  • ·     an angry driver shaking a fist at your car
  • ·     a disappointed child voicing an strong opinion
All of these forms of resistance are the same resistance I meet on the mat. When I find them in my day, I now still myself. I practice “yoga” and decline my own personal invitation to judge, react, or get spun up in an emotion.

B.K.S. Iyengar is a yoga guru who is considered one of the most influential practitioners in the world (Aubrey, 1995). In his book “Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom”, Iyengar explains that even the most beginning of yoga students can access these positive returns from yoga. An individual who has never practiced yoga can step on a mat, make his or her first attempt at Mountain Pose and immediately begin to feel the pleasant experiences of centeredness, strength, and joy. He can learn how to meet obstacles with stillness and positive intention.

As I lay in bed reading his words, last night, I wanted to jump up atop the coveres and joyfully yell, “YES! Yes, this is true! It IS!” I remembered my first Mountain Pose, on that blue mat, in that husband-less living room, with those Tibetan Bells ringing true in the background of Rodney Yee’s voice and I remembered those feelings that I hadn’t felt before.  

And while I lay there in my bed, reading my book, I became certain that I could share this with others. I could become a yoga teacher and share with others how to tap into these fantastic subtle body pleasantries that may be sitting dormant, waiting for the opportunity to show themselves.

Aubrey, Allison. "Light on life: B.K.S. Iyengar's Yoga insights". Morning Edition: National Public Radio, November 10, 1995. (full text) Accessed July 4, 2007

Iyengar, B.K.S. Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom. Rodele Books, 2005.