Day 28 – Namaste

22 Jul

I’ve been doing three things regularly this summer: reading, writing and yoga. Because I’ve committed to posting to my blog every day, that always gets done, but the very best days are when I do all three! Unless I have early appointments that disrupt the flow of my day, I follow this routine: rise early, have coffee with Glenn before he leaves for work, yoga, Teachers Write writing and breakfast, then shower. After that, usually about 10:30-11:00, I’m ready for the rest of my day.

swan poseI started doing yoga at the gym three or four years ago. I love the experience of exercise classes. I like working out with an instructor and with others, to music. I started with flow type classes, basically a fast paced mix of yoga, pilates and tai chi. Because this class was only offered a couple of times a week, I branched out and tried other things, including yoga.

I grew up in a conservative christian atmosphere. It’s not that my parents instilled it in me, but sometime during my adolescence I certainly got the idea that yoga was wrong. Good Christians simply did not do yoga. In fact, somehow I learned that doing yoga was opening myself up to evil. I guess, as I’ve matured and learned more about the world around me, I’ve opened myself up to several ‘evils’. I remember the first time I was at a dinner party where several christians were drinking wine I said, obviously loud enough for a few people around me to hear, “It feels wrong to say grace with wine on the table.” They laughed; I was serious. That was a long time ago.

However, when I did my first yoga class, I didn’t think twice about it. Perhaps by that time I had a different idea of what yoga was. I’m still not sure about all of the different kinds and I do know some forms offer different levels of meditation. I do know that it has its roots in Hinduism. Does that really matter? As a western society, christians included, we’ve adopted all kinds of practices from eastern religion and culture.

When I went to the gym for yoga class, there was always this one woman who would get up and leave during the relaxation/meditation part. I never really understood why she did that because it was my favourite part of the class. You spend much of the class bending, stretching and twisting in ways that your body would never do on its own. Some parts of it is really hard work. Some poses are difficult to hold. It’s not exercise for wimps. Finally, at the end of the class, you get to lie on your mat and the instructor leads you through relaxation. “Why do you need someone to lead you through relaxing?” you might ask. You’re lying on your sofa or sitting in your recliner, you’re relaxed. You think you don’t need anyone guiding you through it. But even when you’re relaxing you are using some muscles without even realizing it. Right now, I’m pulling in my lower lip, my feet are crossed, my shoulders are hunched up and I’m holding my neck up and my eyes open. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but when your only task at hand is to relax ALL of your muscles, it’s helpful to be reminded to release them all. Once you’re completely relaxed the next step is to completely clear your mind. That is difficult to do, more difficult than releasing all of your muscles. However, the more practiced I become at it, the more refreshed I feel when it’s over.  This is the dip in the pool on a hot day, the cold glass of water after a run, the warm cup of cocoa after shoveling the driveway. The relaxation/meditation part of yoga is the reward after the hard work part. Why would anyone do all the hard work and skip the reward?

Looking back, I have to wonder if the woman at the gym skipped savasana (term for the relaxation/meditation part of yoga) because of her Christian with a capital ‘C’ beliefs. Before writing this blog post I did a little internet research that explains why christians don’t like yoga. Here are a couple of web articles that I found: The Truth About Yoga and Christian Yoga? It’s a Stretch. They offer an explanation and if you want to find more reasons to support that point of view, you’ll have no trouble finding more like this. With the dogma and discourse from my conservative upbringing engraved in my mind, I understand the argument. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about yoga. I know that my practice is in its infancy and that I still have a lot to learn and I’m glad there is so much left to learn. I enjoy that process.

Here’s what I know so far from my personal experience. Life is full of both good and evil and there are very few beings or experiences that I’ve encountered that could be defined wholly as one or the other. Yoga marries the physical and spiritual; when you practice yoga you are taking care of your mind, body and soul. The exercises I do are strengthening my body and the meditation gives my active mind the rest that it needs. Spiritually, yoga teaches me that faith is equally about giving (praise) and receiving (listening/quiet). Whether you are christian, hindu, atheist or you identify, or not, with any kind of religion, practicing yoga allows you to care for your whole person. Every day that I make time to practice yoga, I feel better.

Namaste
an ancient Sanskrit blessing

“I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One.”

** My blog is a space that I use to express myself in writing and the biggest reason I choose to share it with the world via the internet is to keep me accountable for sticking to my writing goals. I typically love for people to comment on my blog posts. If you have something positive to say about what I’ve written, I’d love to hear from you. However,  if you vehemently disagree with me, I’ll ask you to keep it out of my comments section. Spend as much time as I have  (approximately two hours) writing about the subject from your own point of view, on your own little space on the web and send me the link or do what I’m going to do and post it to your own facebook wall.

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One Response to “Day 28 – Namaste”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Day 61 – And my summer is done | wildmudturtle writes - August 24, 2014

    […] Day 28 – Namaste was about my path to yoga and what makes it right for me […]

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