Thursday, February 08, 2007

Well, since you asked . . .

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.


Jennifer B. said...

Thanks for the details. I could definitely use more peace. Just curious -- how much time are you able to devote to meditation and what time of day do you fit it in?

Darlene said...

The yoga I do either just before bed (I know--you're SO tired and it's hard to do one more thing but it feels soooo good once you start) or, when I can get away with it, at about 3:30 p.m. just before the kids start coming home from school. That's the ideal for me because it prepares me for the "witching hour," the hardest time of the day for me.

The meditation is harder to get in, especially a long, sitting meditation. I often do it early in the morning before others get up. Sometimes I can do it at nap-time. (But that means giving up my nap!) I'll be honest: I've had to give up other things to do this. My writing, in particular, has suffered. I actually don't care much about that. I feel confident that it will come back when I have the time and mental space (and schedule space) for it. It helps to know that my youngest will be in pre-school next year. I'll have time to do what I want. For now, meditation is taking priority.

greenfrog said...

Hi darlene -- nice blog.

As I've started teaching yoga, I've found that sometimes the students who would benefit the most from yoga are the ones who decide, in the end, that they just can't make time for it.

When they tell me that, I'm reminded of an experience I had in Costa Rica years ago. I was complaining about the state of my life, and how I wished I had more time to explore the rain forests there (which absolutely entranced me), and I griped that I had to get back to work.

The guide we were with that day looked at me and said, "Tienes mas tiempo que vida." Once I cobbled through my rough translation, the statement brought me up short: "You have more time than life."

Of course, letting go enough to be able to see that fact is, itself, more than a little difficult, so I try to be compassionate to my students who conclude that they simply can't make time for yoga and walk away from the practice that might help them.

Glad to hear that it's benefitted you.

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

I met him in a swamp down in Degobah, where it bubbles all the time like a great big carbonated SO-DA. S-O-D-A soda.

Found your blog through Jennifer. Nice to meet a fellow Al fan. :)