Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What is Yoga for me?

So January 2013, WoYoPracMo: World Yoga Practice Month is back, but on Facebook. It's been a long journey back to yoga. My attitude to the practice has definitely shifted since about 4 years ago when I was practicing at least 5 to 6 times a week. I enjoyed the sense of structure and discipline. Most of all, I loved watching myself growing stronger and more flexible. It's fun to check out how toned your muscles have grown because of yoga. Yet, when I look back, it felt like a goal-oriented approach to the practice.

But I would not change it for anything else. I believe my practice then was what I needed. I believe if we allow it, our practice evolves as we evolve. But then again, I do not know what yoga is. Or at least, I have heard and read too many people defining what yoga is.

To all of that, all I can say is, this just like asking, "What is God?" You will get a million different answers, all of it true - because ultimately we see God through our own eyes. Look at how you see your God, and ask yourself what is it that you are seeking. That is the work you need to do.

Life came at me a few years back. I struggled with mental illness in the family, unemployment that lasted more than a year, loss, and heartbreak. I fell out of practice. I couldn't read anything because my attention span was so scattered I could not concentrate. I couldn't write, because I couldn't gather my thoughts enough to write. This blog has been neglected for so long. Yet I am back now. I am here once more. Writing, writing, writing.

I came back. I am back. I am thankful for everything that has come to pass to bring me to the edge, then tip me over. I am grateful for loss, and heartbreak, and challenges. I am grateful for yoga and the dharma - the two anchors in my life that have always work to bring me back when I was lost.

What is God? What is yoga?

Yoga, for me, is that practice that transforms you from within. You do the work, and then you step aside and allow it to do what it needs to do. It is dance, it is meditation, it is painting, it is sports, it is play. It is Everything. If it does not transform you, it is not yoga. It is subtle. If you allow it, it does what it needs to do, not what you want it to do.

I feel the result of not practicing the last few years. I have gained some weight. I am not as strong anymore. (I struggle with chaturanga these days) I am also not as flexible anymore. I am no longer able to go into some of the binds that I used to. Yet, I feel the practice more these days.

These changes in my own body has taught me humility, and a respect for the work I must do. My practice is no longer as goal-oriented anymore. While I would still like to be strong and flexible as I used to, the thought does not obsess me. I accept my body as it is now. I just ask that I do my best. I will take child's pose if I need to. I love my body. I love my life. And these days, when I do front bends, I take it as a bow. I am not sure who or what I am bowing to. Maybe it's a bow to myself, to the practice, to the one I still love in spite of all the heartaches.

I am doing the work now. I am allowing it to transform me.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

So glad that you're writing. Things have changed for me in the past few years as well. Yoga has barely been an option but I'm glad to at least be thinking about it again.