Keeping it Natural, pt. 1
Yoga is a natural practice. It is a practice of experiencing the very reality of life happening within you, without obstacle or pretense. Many teachers and approaches to yoga offer stories, imagery, and mythology as a way of helping the very real teachings of yoga to blossom within the practitioner. None of these props, such as mantra, song, story, or even asana, are in themselves Yoga. Yoga is the experiencing of reality. All of the trappings, whether they be cultural or physical, are unnecessary for Yoga to happen. It is already happening. Your left side and your right side are physically inseparable, at least, if you want to remain alive. Your in breath and your out breath, are the same breath moving within and without you. Yoga is already present. The practice is simply in the practitioner taking part in the experience of living. Because of this, there is no need to become melodramatic about the practice, or set a high bar of wild achievement, wherein no satisfaction can be gained until the carrot in front of the cart is grasped. There will always be some potential for achievement to occur just outside of our reach, and, there is a beauty in that. The desire for achievement helps us to acquire new, and often very satisfying skills, such as playing the violin, or making crème brulee. And, it’s wonderful to attain toward virtuosity. However, enjoyment can happen in the process of learning tasks. Enjoyment need not be reserved for that day when you become perfect at your art. By that benchmark, enjoyment will never come. Every virtuoso is one because they always keep exploring the edges of their art. That being said, a true virtuoso enjoys the musicality of the very simplest of phrases. And, this is how we should approach our yoga, whether we choose to go wild learning intricate poses, or simply practice simple movements with the breath. I would encourage keeping the practice simple and natural, where your simplest movements rise and expand on your inhale, you enjoy the pause at the top of the wave of expansion, and then your movement falls toward earth on the exhale, enjoy that moment of clarity in the trough of the wave. If you are guided by the joyful feeling in your body to explore anything of greater intricacy, great, enjoy it. However, don’t chase it. Find that same joy in lying on the floor, feeling the wave of the ocean in your breath. It is there, all of the time. You have the opportunity to enjoy the fullness of life in every moment, whether you are in the middle of a time of elation and joy, or even when experiencing deep suffering. The richness of life is always available, if you allow yourself to feel and embrace whatever is occurring in the moment. That doesn’t mean for a second that suffering doesn’t hurt, or that sadness can’t break you for a time. Rather, it is an affirmation that you are never a failure if you aren’t having a good time. You are human, and you are beautiful. You have something to bring to the table, whether you are in pure joy, or in suffering.