Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yoga's Secret

As I tried to reconcile my turned out back foot with my squared to the front of the room hips, I felt a deep gratitude to be in a yoga class, and better yet, that I would be in a yoga class again the next day.  It had been way too long since I practiced Asana more than once a week.  As I dipped into Devotional Warrior, lifting my hands to stretch my shoulders, and letting the crown of my head fall down toward the mat as my shoulder negotiated for space inside of my knee, I realized I must be really drinking the yoga kool-aid to be getting down on myself for only practicing once a week.  How many people know the benefits of yoga, but still let little things take them away from their practice for weeks, even months, at a time?
Not that there's anything wrong with them either; we're all on our own journeys, doing the best we can.  My regular Wednesday teacher, Ramit, always talks about 'the practice', and being consistent, but she also says that running might be your practice, or baking, which always made me have to resist the urge to snort.  "THIS is the practice!"  I thought, as I lifted up and spread out my toes for the millionth time, and engaged my outer thigh even more.
Except, the truth is, I'd skip an Asana class for an aerial class any day.  I used to feel like improving the health of my physical body was my path to the true perfection of the divine, but now I think it's even more simple than that: the higher I climb, the more free I feel, and the more I can see that we're all one.

So, you know, as usual, I had the wrong idea--too narrow, and my teacher had the right one.  Not only do all rivers lead to the sea, but so do all the little streams and rivulets along the way.  In a way, it's impossible for us to avoid heading in that direction, but you'll move a lot faster, and have a much more exciting adventure, if you go willingly.

And you know, the amazing thing is, once you have a practice (and yoga is awesome for giving you a lens through which to look and find the pre-existing practice in your life, or it very well may be the practice itself), new practices will pop up everywhere.  Ultimately, every moment is the practice.  This morning I was having such an integrated moment with watermelon processing meditation, I totally forgot to take pictures for my blog post on watermelon jelly Friday!

What are the moments in your life when you stop resisting (and yes, it's ok to say that in angry cop voice), and surrender fully to the moment?  Can you feel the divine currents swirling around you?  Why should you let that be an every once in a while kind of thing?  In case you haven't figured that out already, the solution to that problem is not to do your practice 24/7.  We kind of have to eat, sleep, probably hold down a steady job...the answer is to devote yourself consistently to doing your practice in a way that teaches you how to be practicing, in that frame of mind, constantly, and the only way that is going to work is if your practice isn't always super easy and fun.

That's the secret that no one likes to tell noobs about yoga: the point is not the parts where you feel amazing, beautiful, graceful, strong, free...the point is relearning how to react when everything hurts, and you just fell out of a pose for the third time, and sweat is dripping in your eyes, and you're pretty sure everyone is laughing at you...when you can surrender fully to that moment, or the moment when you realize your watermelon juice wasn't strained thoroughly enough, and the pectin wasn't stirred into the sugar enough, and you've spilled boiling water on yourself twice already, that's when you're doing yoga.

Yep.  It takes practice.  And failing lots and lots and lots of times.

And the reward?


Live Omily,


  1. Em, you're amazing. Just when I thought I knew you

  2. Aw, thanks! You're amazing, too! I have been letting New York Harbor get between us too much I think...