“The hardest part of doing yoga is getting to yoga.” I’ve said it a thousand times in my classes, with the intention of letting the practitioners feel happy that they made it to class. But this past month has made this statement a little more true for me. I have not made it to a yoga class, without my kids, in almost month.
I told my husband, when he called to say he was once again going to work late, that I felt as if my sanity was slowly slipping away. I felt like a caged animal. I was loosing my mind. I NEEDed yoga, like an addict needs a fix. And it looked like I wasn’t going to get it, for a while. After a few deep sighs and a brief cry, I decided to pick myself up. I need to take my own advice every once in a while. Yoga does not have to happen on your mat. While I did miss the physical aspects of a solid 75 minute class, this is not what I needed. I needed quiet. I needed the space to hear my thoughts and then let them drop.
So that day, after I picked my daughter up from school, we went on a hike. I put my phone away, so as not to be distracted. I tried to only talk when I had to. Amazingly, although I didn’t do a single sun salutation, this did the trick! I could breathe again. Nature truly does restore. But more than the power of the natural world, it was knowing that my kids were safe and happy, watching them climbing limbs and hunting the perfect, red, fall leaf. It was the relief of not having to do anything. It was the permission I gave myself to be present. That is what yoga is about, after all.
A nice hike, or moment to be quiet and present is yoga. Yoga is the bringing together of body, mind and spirit. This can happen when you are taking a shower, and feeling the suds run down your back. It can happen when you are driving, aware of your control of the car. It can happen in the mundane and the unique moments of life. After years of practice on the mat, the true work that begins to emerge is the work of training the mind to be present. We practice it through the hard poses, and easy moments in class, in order to teach our minds to be present in all moments of our life.
Compared to simple push-ups and balancing postures, the meditative work is the hardest part. Our minds easily succumb to distraction, and we live in a vibrant, busy world. We are used to being scattered. And we need a break from so much stimuli. We need an escape. So those moments when you can’t get to your mat, those moments when I can’t get to my mat, are excruciating. By only allowing yourself to be present on your mat you are conditioning yourself to only be present while twisted into an asana, breathing ujjiya. Break this conditioning and get present off your mat. Give yourself the opportunity to be present in your life. Go outside, cloister yourself in your bedroom, find a place that you can break away from distractions and show up. It’s hard. It might always be hard. But yoga isn’t just about the sweat. It’s about finding a way to practice in every moment. The hardest part is also the sweetest part. Be present, now and always.