Yoga for the Discursive Mind

I wish I were good at yoga. On top of the physical inability to do whatever-asana without groaning, I go straight into short attention span mode the minute I flop on a mat. It starts with me realizing I wore colored socks and now have dark fuzz stuck between all my toes and ends with barely contained giggles when someone starts snoring during the relaxation pose. Sometimes that someone is me and I still think it’s funny. I’ve tried it in a beautiful studio with sunlight and wood floors. I’ve done it in my livingroom with a DVD while being distracted by Rodney Yee’s…uh…outfit. I’ve done it at the Y. I’ve done it on the fly. Okay, Dr. Seuss probably had a short attention span, too.

Western Yoga comes in all shapes and sizes, much of it athletic and circus-like (aerial yoga – really!). There are so many experts and superstar yogis, that it has just become another thing I “should” get better at. When my daughter was younger, we used to do this children’s yoga DVD together. The teacher was wonderful – animated, laughing and the kids were having a great time. It’s a lovely concept that now makes a profit – welcome to Laughing Yoga. Or somebody thought that if you jacked up the thermostat to over 100° F, it would make people healthier. Welcome to Hot Yoga. I’d attend Hot Flash Yoga. I’m assuming that would be taught in a refrigerated room.

For me, yoga might not be in a room with bendy people laying on rubber mats for an hour. I understand the intent and that is my road to yoga. To stop, to breathe, to feel and appreciate the work my body does for me, to take care of it a little better, to still my thoughts, if only for a few moments and to whisper a little ‘namaste’ to the world. Sometimes yoga for the day is three really long, really quiet stretches while breathing deeply. Or standing in tree pose while my child runs around me laughing.

I tend to lean toward eastern philosophies that yoga is meditation to unite body and mind. The eastern yogis don’t look like triathletes and they don’t have “gear”. When you see photos of eastern practitioners, they’re usually sitting around swathed in what look like sheets – that is a yoga outfit I can get on board with, especially if I fall asleep during the relaxation pose. I admire the calm and serenity I see in experienced practitioners of yoga, but I know it will never be me, because I’m already thinking about something else.

7 Comments on “Yoga for the Discursive Mind

  1. You’re right, the “real/authentic” yoga is a far cry from what we see in yoga studios and gyms. Asanas are just the easy door opener for many of us in the West who have busy minds and cannot get started with the other limbs of yoga straight away because it might feel too restrictive.
    I loved what Gurmukh once said when asked if she was doing yoga every day, even though she has a busy travel schedule – she said “Of course I do yoga every day. I just don’t do asanas every day”. 🙂

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    • I like that quote – that sums up my point nicely! Although I don’t want to be dismissive of the value many people gain from learning and practicing yoga “technique”, I think it can be very intimidating and cause people to miss the heart of it. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      PS – I just popped over to your blog. Beautiful!

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  2. I remember reading that Western yoga is so far removed from its origins as to be nearly unrecognizable. Despite the beautiful scenery in many yoga videos, it is hard to imagine actual Yogis in the Himalayas doing bridge pose surrounded by Yaks while listening to recorded flute music.

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