You did ask, right? (more on yoga) (Song running around in my head: Wierd-Al Yankovick singing "yo- yo- yo- yo- YO DA.")
I’ve tried yoga before, but it was always as an exercise program, and not as a spiritual discipline. So I was too eager for results. I wanted to see progress quickly, particularly in my flexibility, but also in strength and maybe, if I did rigorous yoga, cardiovascularly. All of which is the WRONG, WRONG approach to yoga.
The point to yoga is to listen to your body and accept it as it is. It works when you do it mindfully (which can often mean “slowly” and “more gently than you think”) and as a meditation.
So this time I began with the meditation, because I was recovering and stuck in bed. I read a book called “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zin. If you’re looking for a book just on yoga, this isn’t it, but I sure recommend it as a beginning to your yoga practice. The point is that through meditation, whether you do it formally or as a part of your yoga, you learn to accept your body as it is, which frees it to do its own healing and progress in its own ways. Then when you do your yoga, it’s more intense, more healing, harder work and more energizing. (Kabat-Zin has a set of cd’s that I checked out of the library that walk you through your first experiences with meditation and yoga. I highly recommend them. I’ve been using a video I have as well—not that great, but because of the training I got from the cd’s I can still benefit from it.)
You can’t rush yoga. Don’t do it if you’re looking for results. Do it if you’re looking for peace. And you’ll get results as an added benefit!
If you would like to have yoga in your life but don’t want to get into all the meditation stuff (and I’m sorry for you because you’re missing out!), you still can do it right if you are careful. I would HIGHLY recommend taking a yoga class, because your teacher will show you how the breathing and mindfulness goes along with the movements. If you just do it from a book or video, you might mistakenly think that it’s the movements and the exercising that are important--and you’d miss the point completely.
So there it is: it worked for me this time because I came at it from a meditative standpoint. I don’t think it would have otherwise. But with a good teacher you could probably learn both together.
By the way, if you just check out the Kabat-Zin cd’s but don’t read the book, I think you’ll be frustrated. It’s very, very slow yoga, very meditative.