Monday, November 14, 2005
Back to Yoga
I’ve come back recently to hatha yoga. Not just the typical postures that one finds in books by Indian gurus (B.K.S. Iyengar being the most famous), but yoga as a flowing series of movements (the practice is actually called The Flow Series). The DVDs I’m using to structure my daily practice are from the White Lotus Foundation. Tracey Rich and Ganga White are the trainers and I am the middle-aged, overweight, stiff-as-a-board novice. Still, it’s making a difference.
Each morning, I engage the DVD player with a choice of four disks, depending on how energetic and vigorous a workout I want to use to start my day. So far, I haven’t had the courage to try the more advanced workout – Fire – nor the advanced Total Yoga. I’ve been content to stick with Earth and Water. The workouts are each about forty-five minutes in duration, starting with sun salutations of one kind or another, followed by standing postures, seated postures, bending and twisting, inversions, and relaxation.
It’s a challenge explaining why The Flow Series is so stimulating a start to a busy day. Part of the attraction is simply that my body feels fully stretched and energized. Another benefit is the sense of peace and contentment which inevitably accompanies the completion of a workout. Another less obvious aspect is that I have made an intention and carried it through. That aspect of intentionality may be the most significant benefit of all.
Yoga is, for me at least, about respecting the body and allowing it the freedom to move. As we age, the body becomes less responsive, bound by chains of habit, neglect, and lack of intention and attention. But engaging in a daily regimen of stretches, inversions, bends, and awareness of the body helps me rediscover my centre, much like writing helps me ascertain what I really think about an issue or concern. I have often said that it is only when I write that I truly know what I think. Similarly, it is only when I practice yoga that my body finds its voice; right now, it’s complaining about neglect and the extra pounds that must be carried around. Maybe someday it will say something like “Hey, looking good!”