October 31, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam
People travel to wonder at the height of mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long courses of rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motion of the stars;
And they pass by themselves without wondering.
In my years of teaching yoga (and cycling, weight lifting, etcetera) I have seen so much of the syndrome I callego overriding body. I’ve done it to myself, particularly when it comes to running.
I live in an area of avid, nearly crazed athletes. No matter the weather, people are out running, cycling, even risking their lives riding their bikes on ice covered highways, to get their workout in. I used to be one of those people. It seemed worth the burn to risk my life and health. It took me a very long time to figure out what this was about. For me, it was the constant comparison process I went through. I needed to look better than.
Looking back now, I can see how this concept set me up for disappointment. As my sister, Diana, likes to say: there’s always a faster gun. And, no matter how much we punish our bodies in an attempt to look a certain way, there always will be someone who’s taken it up a notch.
This applies to the practice of yoga in oh so many ways. When I’m in a class of “hard bodies” I think about the men in India some thousand years ago undertaking the practice of asana and I wonder what they would think of our Americanizing of the practice. They wore dhotis (loincloths,) we wear overpriced “yoga clothing.” They practice asana as one part of the goal of reaching Samadhi. We practice asana to have a great butt, abs and arms.
Now that the option of the perfect body is behind me, I can see how I used asana, and other exercise, not for its benefits, but rather to my physical detriment. I am finally grateful for the gift this body has been. I appreciate every imperfection now because I no longer feel the need to compare.
Instead, I feel the need to express gratitude to this body for the gifts it has given me, which is as a vehicle that allows me to do the work I am here to do. I look at this being human and marvel at its perfection. And I wonder at the wonderment of it all.
With great kindness, Chris