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The road to yoga

INDONESIA | Friday, 5 May 2017 | Views [869]

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The road to yoga

Ventured into a yoga studio today, my first time since about two years ago when I did a few classes at Core Power Yoga in Denver. Yoga is no stranger to this body. I initially started as a teenager going to a few classes in an old church in the old west Lawrence area (Kansas), I believe this was one of the town's first organized classes


. This was my mom's idea to start yoga, she thought it would help me with the emotional troubles I had just begun to experience. From there I was introduced to Bikram yoga while in college in Tucson, Arizona. I was somewhat of an exercise junky at this stage in my life and the vigorous, hot yoga was definitely my next vice. I practiced most days of the week and my body quickly adapted to the 26 posture series. As with all things done in excess, my interest started to fade. I graduated and moved to NYC where my yoga practice was moderately active since I couldn't refuse the free classes at the gym where I worked. As I continued to move around the country, back to Kansas then Massachusetts then Texas, my interest and practice was minimal. I knew most postures and series but lacked motivation to stand alone in a quiet room, focus on my breath and move. For me, a class was the best way to hold myself accountable beyond a ten minute practice, but finding the right class and instructor then became another factor that impeded the practice. Eventually in Austin, TX I found a class that had recently become a new yoga fad, hot vinyasa. This class was perfect for me since it was warm like Bikram, giving the sweaty, cleansing experience, yet it moved beyond Bikram with the vinyasa component, which in my opinion was more dynamic and mimicking movement closer to daily life activities. The class appealed to me mostly by adding both stretching with a vigorous exercise. So again, the exercise addict was back! This sustained the short period I lived in Texas, then vet school called with a once in a lifetime opportunity and just like that yoga and I were done. I can't remember attending a yoga class in Manhattan, KS during vet school. I was never a fan of attending university recreation center yoga classes where an 18 year old college student guided me through positions adding some pearls of enlightened insight. Unfortunately, my distaste for false superficial wisdom worsened and further prevented me from attending classes. I guess my thought process went like this: yoga as most westerners know it (and I will refer to people in the U.S.) is simply stretching or stretching exercise. Most classes are not taught by an old Indian guy but rather a westerner trained through a yoga training course. A portion of the training courses are dedicated to yoga philosophy but barely scratch the surface of the thousands of years of tradition mixed with religion. So my first beef that prevents me from going to yoga classes is the instructor imparting to me interpreted wisdoms gained from a teacher training course. Apart from "hey everyone, focus on yourself and your practice, and be kind to your body today," I'm easily irritated by anything else. I'm here to stretch, not become enlightened in 1 hour. I know, I know, some people benefit from these reminders and reinforcement in their life via twice weekly yoga classes, I do not. My second beef with yoga classes: while everyone has just nodded their heads in agreement to the solid "turn within yourself" wisdom to start the class, there remains the stable groups of hypocrites that then overtly demonstrate their yoga skills by displaying positions that clearly indicate they 1) skipped a few intermediate steps going for the gold and will pay for it in a few years and 2) clearly have no other hobbies in life or other avenues for self affirmation. Is it too much to ask for a yoga studio with a bunch of old hippies wearing everything from pajamas to gardening clothes that giggle about the person in class trying to show up Yanni's flute with their butt whistle?

While I believe theses aspects of westernized yoga prevent me from practicing theses days, I know that these are just excuses and not sound arguments either. I can't remember when it started but at some point along the way yoga began to make me very uncomfortable. First it was attributed to the camel posture. The intense opening of the front of my chest and stomach started to make me nauseous. It got to the point where the dizziness began just setting up for the position. Later I began to notice that any hip opening posture made me emotionally teary eyed. I tried to embrace both postures and be open to the energy that was trying to move, unfortunately I was not consistent enough to move past it. Finally, savasana became a problem, I'd lie there just fighting off tears. I'm not sure what I was thinking about or feeling or if it was related to anything at all. I'm not sure I care to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out at this point.

My return to yoga started today. The class was situated in something like an octagonal tree house. The tropical air was warm and my skin already sticky. There were only three of us in the class, the instructor was pleasant, and my intention was merely that of discovery today, a checking in. The practice was overall slow and I honored the recommendation to use all the support materials, blocks, strap, bolster, and blanket. I was pleased to hear my brain say things like, "oh look at that", "wow that's tight", "hey that feels pretty good". My judgement was not present for that 1.5 hr class, very unusual for me. Now savasana, tears came and the breath became difficult to slow. I was thinking about all that has happened the last two years, starting with the loss of Roxi (immediate tears), thinking about how tired I had become and ready to check out on multiple occasions, how my body had just coiled up as if protecting myself but ended up causing physical pain and buried emotions, and lastly how I need to try and allow some healing to occur but that I can't force health and this will be slow and require only patience and self love.

So with that, my breathing slowed and the tears stopped. I didn't make plans for this trip despite every hard wire in my mind telling me to do so. I need to ask first what I need then make accommodations as needed. I think I will stay here awhile, try some more yoga. I'm of a science mind but I can't help but ask if my recent and uncomfortable experiences with yoga are related to my body holding on to a lot of emotional trauma. Were that to be the case and regardless of the what or why of the trauma, it makes sense to ask the body to first let go by providing the path (possibly yoga in this case) then see what is released. Anything beyond that would only be presumptive and not worth the time to entertain those thoughts.

Tags: ubud, yoga

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