August 24, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam
I first discovered yoga in the 1970’s while I was working at the University of Arizona Student Health Center. A small group of us would meet in the basement during lunch and do, what we now call ‘asana’ together. At the time, I thought that was all there was to yoga. Over the years, I’ve re-discovered yoga many times — in the form of asana. I’ve stayed with it for days, sometimes weeks, even everyday for 1 1/2 years, while I got my yoga teacher certification. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized how small the asana part of yoga is and how much bigger the other limbs of yoga are. At 61 I don’t aspire to stand on my head for five minutes. I aspire to be a better person. While asana contributes in a small way to that process, it can also have the opposite effect. Asana done as a muscle building, yoga butt, exercise junkie, gym practice can possibly make us see ourselves as different or separate from, other beings. It might reinforce competition. We might even compare ourselves to others who practice yoga, in terms of flexibility, nice butts, firm muscles, etc. How could that possibly make us happier?
Those who think she/he might have a perfect yoga body, will be FOREVER striving to fix any possible perceived flaw. (And believe me, there is always a faster gun.) In my view that makes for a pretty miserable life. I propose that the idea of the “perfect yoga body” might just be another booby trap on our way to happiness.
So here is a song I use sometimes to remind myself I AM EXACTLY WHERE I NEED TO BE AT THIS MOMENT:
(please try very hard to ignore any possible divisive commercial at the beginning.)
Moving on. Today’s yama is a little more difficult than what we’ve been talking about. It’s formal name is Brahmacharya. In the East this word is taken to mean celibacy. However, in my yoga teacher training program, where Westerners are being taught, the word has been given a different meaning. I quote: “We Westerners have this huge block of guilt sitting on our back; by now we know the difference between right action and wrong action. I know you’re going to have sex, hopefully in a committed, loving relationship — so don’t sully it up, okay?” (I would be happy to give credit, if only I could remember my instructors name.)
Pranayama today will be something called Bellows Breath. There is a YouTube video available if you’re playing along at home.
Asana: Since I saw an actual wolf yesterday, today I chose to feel strong and competent by working on Warrior I, II and III. I will add Triangle, Revolved Triangle and Wheel (I like to try to keep my heart open when I’m slightly afraid.) I’ll close with an inversion, and then, of course, sivasana. (BTW, if you’re thinking you don’t have time for a “real” asana practice be advised: I spend about 20, maybe 30 minutes doing asana. If you don’t have that much time, maybe pick one pose and do it for five minutes. Or skip it altogether and do it in your head on the way to work — who says that can’t work?)
Yours in the cumulative effect of the Yamas, Chris