Milestone — being yoga

The workshop this past weekend was a milestone in my practice. I’ve been noticing a shift in my focus on yoga for several weeks now. I notice how incomplete I feel when I’m not able to get to class aBrnd how energized and alive I feel when I have done a good practice. When I was traveling, I made it a point to reserve an hour or two in the evenings to roll out my mat and do some work. What a glow this solitary practice gives to your body and mind as you move through the vinyasa moved only by the rhythm of your own breath! No instructor, no audio cues.

I came to yoga four years ago because I wanted to reap from its benefits — yoga for depression, anxiety, and heart aches; yoga to deal with back pain and aging; yoga for losing weight and gaining flexibility. The US market is full of this message. I still want those pluses, but I noticed that I am motivated less by the benefits and more by the practice itself. The most succinct explanation I’ve heard for this attitude is Shiva Rea saying that she was not interested in “doing yoga,” but rather in “being yoga.” That shift in focus makes a big difference. I not only get the same benefits as before, but they seem to be compounded because they are unencumbered by the resistance and tension that build up when I am specifically seeking an outcome; I become aware of other aspects of my practice that I failed to sense because I was targeting my efforts too narrowly.

In a sense, my purchase of a new mat and other paraphernalia and my participation in the workshop is a long-term investment in my yoga practice. It’s not just a hobby, a pastime or a fitness exercise, but an integral part of my self-image and a tool in my personal development. I am taking a stake in the future.

And this past weekend, I celebrated my four-year anniversary by tapping into a shared energy and flow with other yogis who also realize the prospects of the discipline and rejoice in the varied stages of practices that others might bring to the mat. In other words, no novice, no expert, just yogis sharing the reward of the practice. Beryl told us that in India yoga was originally meant to be practiced in a group setting, in the neighborhood shala with other practitioners. She was so right. I was fortunate to celebrate this milestone in the studio that has been my shala for the past three years.