My first sun salute happened at age 16. Obsessed with all things India, I checked out this yoga book from my school library, because I had this desire to do yoga, but was super freaked out because of my fundamentalist Christian parents and the upbringing that equated yoga with devil-worship. But I felt called to do yoga. I can’t explain it, other than something in my heart and body said, ‘try this,’ and I had to follow that calling.
So I fumbled through a sun salutations, in secret, at night, in my bedroom. It was hard, looking at pictures from a book and trying to figure out how to link the sequence or figure out the right alignment without any verbal directions or hands-on tweaking. I fumbled on until the book had to be returned, and I smuggled it back into my library to not be checked out again, by me.
Not willing to risk delving deeper into yoga, I gave it a break, for about a year, until a summer or two later when I came across an excellently marketed product called iFit yoga, that had stripped the Indian spiritual and philosophy, from the asanas and made it appealing as a form of exercise. I snapped up the packaged mat/block/strap/bag and audio CD, and began practicing for 45-60 minutes every night (again, in my bedroom, in semi-secret). I felt more open about my practice, but focused on the exercise benefits.
My practice has waxed and waned for years. Whole years have gone by where I haven’t actively practiced asana, and simply focused on breathwork, or philosophy, or at the very least, simply reading yoga magazines and wearing yoga pants to the grocery store.
But I miss it.
The asana practice, that is.
So, today, while Potamus was sleeping, I did some asthanga yoga to a youtube video. It felt hard, and good, and right. And it also felt a little bit scary. Because I’ve been on this journey for years, and I love it, and it feels different than running, because it feels like it hits my soul in a different way. I avoid because it’s hard to go inside myself and feel things I don’t want to feel and be exposed to the big picture of suffering and complexity that seems overwhelming. Why this happens during yoga and not other exercise (yet) is a mystery to me, but there it is. In some ways I am still both drawn and frightened by yoga, as that teenager fundamentalist was drawn and frightened. For different reasons.
The ebb has come back to flow, and I think I might do asanas more regularly. And I want to expose Potamus to yoga, but that’s a whole other post for another day…
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i love this post! there’s something too contemplative about yoga that i also feel drawn to it and frightened by it. that’s the perfect explanation.
I think it’s a pretty common fear about yoga and meditation…something about movement and the contemplation unlocks something inside and it gets expressed. For awhile when I was working through my abandonment issues, I found myself actually crying in a yoga pose, spontaneously. But it felt good…now, though, the fear of something like that happening is keeping me from really diving in…I don’t have time to have a meltdown!