Without yoga, I fear, Id become a total Mommy Dearest. Why, then, am I such an ungrateful Chaturanga-ist?
Thats because I make amazing baked goods, leading me to another shortcoming: hubris. And another still: issues with self-control.
To get downright dirty, the ugliest truth about myself is that I sometimes compare myself to others and complain, out loud, much more often than Id like. You can imagine what goes on inside my brain. A cycle of bitch, moan, repeat.Trust me, you dont want get in there. its a dark watery abyss.
As such, I try to busy myself with a cocktail of self-help seminars, reflective literature, meditation and yoga. I credit the yoga, in particular, for keeping me off the Prozac.
The hubris in me wants to take you on a walk down asana lane, recounting the first time I did a headstand or gripped my toes in Baddha Padmasana (06, baby). But youre not interested in all that. Are you?
(Insecurity can be another vice.)
Let me just briefly state that once you get a full length mirror in front of me, I can get downright Olympic Trials with my postures. Remove the mirror, Im like a Tiger Yogi. Watch out!
A significant side-effect of the impetuous/hubris/comparing-oneself-to-others/complaint-prone diagnosis is that I can be terribly competitive. Therein dwells my most significant problem: you!
Im talking to my goddamned ego.
By ego I dont mean an inflated sense of self; rather, a bamboozling self-consciousness that swoops in and ruins any hope I have of becoming a halfway decent yogione day. Its what turns me into Crouching Tiger, Bitchy Yogi.
I try to practice every morning by myself, since theres only one decent fucking class in all of Seville!
(I have a potty-mouth, too. My son cursed twice last week after hearing me use the f and s word to describe my own debt crisis, making me a bad mother to boot.)
Now that Im in the United States, classes abound, the nearest one being at the fitness center up the road. Now, Ive been practicing long enough to know that apart from the Crunch Fitness on Broadway circa 2003 (now closed), the gym is no place to practice yoga. I like to get my Kundalini fix or Ashtanga nod in quiet, pretty placesaway from the thump of treadmills and Justin Bieber.
Being car-less in Extreme Suburbia, I am left with little choice. So I trekked to the 4:30 Yoga 3 class, only to spend the proceeding 75 minutes vexed, annoyed, inwardly seething and bereft after flapping my arms up and down like a catatonic eagle in the geriatric ward. No salutations, no words of wisdom, no meditation. I kept waiting for the lesson, my fill, the point, a chantmy fix.
Questions like what is wrong with him? and is he even licensed? seared into my brain. I searched the room for grimaces of agreement; an exchanged glance of this guy is from the Bally Total Fitness school of yoga. Obviously.
Then I remembered something that a very good yogi once told me when I was kvetching about not being able to practice as much as I used to since becoming a mother. Ill paraphrase her because it was really quite simple: the practice is in your everyday.
I thought, hmm, Ill have to remember that. I should try some breathing exercises during diaper changes, walking meditations during night-wakings, maybe a couple of Chaturanga Dandasanas during nap time. But that was not what she meant. What she was conveying, in her wisdom and, I imagine, as part of her own practice was this: the real practice is in the stillness of the posture and mind.
That is what makes yoga a truly Olympian feat in which any expectation of perfection is delightfully and laughably silly, like Elvis Stojko.
It doesnt matter who your teacher is or what style of yoga you are practicing. As David Swenson explained,all are branches of the same tree trying to extend towards the same canopy: the lightwhats above. What transcends.
Im such a bitchy yogi sometimes, but I do try to be kind(er to myself).
Images: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS; milopeng; Mark Donoghues Autographs …