"Reach out and grab the YES"
- Jonas Fricke
There are so many fitness systems that work. Pilates works, cross fit works, running works (for some people!). The reason why I love yoga is because of the way it works. I have never practiced any other style of exercise that shows me so quickly where I am “at”. Have I made time for myself? Am I balancing my time/ emotion/ work vs family life? Have I been distracted? Wishy washy? It all seems to come out for me on my mat.
The parallels between body and mind are indisputable. When a person is depressed, it shows in their form, the shoulders droop, the eyes can be downcast, there is the imagined presence of a heavy weight. Incorporating movement that is uplifting and energetic changes the way the brain perceives things, maybe for a moment’s respite, maybe in a more lasting way.
To me, yoga is all about balance. And I don’t mean just standing on my hands, although that is part of it. If one is too strong, flexibility is compromised, if one is too flexible, they can be less strong. Yoga ties it all together, and shows me where I’m good and where I’m lacking.
Tap into what sources you.
I grapple from time to time with how I would describe the “spiritual” aspects of yoga. The practice itself is non denominational, but I practice religiously. I turn to yoga when I feel empty, or lost, and through it I feel redemption. It is hard for me to describe what that is like, or what it means to me, but I know there is something reverential about purifying your “temple”. There is something sacred about ritual. And while these points are arguable they are vague enough to be true. The grappling comes in when I try to pigeonhole what that experience should look like, what box I can fit it in, what label I can slap on it. I am not from India, I am not a Buddhist, I am not a monk, I am not even a Christian. But I believe I am, indeed we all are, part of a bigger ” “, and I know when I tap into that it feels true.
In the Sivananda ashram my teachers taught me that yoga was designed to tone the body and quiet the mind so that the practitioner could meditate for longer without the distractions of an uncomfortable body or a busy mind. The idea behind meditation is that one could achieve enlightenment, or be closer to god, whether that god is Jesus, Buddah, Allah, or Saraswati. But is yoga really for everyone? My classes are predominantly white people. I mean, this is something I am aware of. I don’t know how to change that, or how to reach out to all people. I can’t tell if that attitude is just self centered proselytizing. I abhor that behavior! My goal is just to make this as accessible to everyone I can.
I have helped anarchists, agnostics, athiests, and deeply spiritual/religious people find comfort and ease in their bodies and minds with yoga, and I swear the common essence of that ease is the ” ” I can’t put my finger on.
My truth is, you can just go to yoga and do the poses. Being mindful of your breath helps you just ‘be’ in each moment. It always works! And whether you are inwardly seeking solace, or looking outward for physical transformation, something else is happening. And please trust me, even though I don’t know the Sanskrit name of every pose, I have no desire to “bleach” the rich history or culture out of the yogic tradition. To me there is a fine line between honoring tradition and appropriation. I just feel the ” “. I want to share it with anyone!