“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.”
Supta Baddha Konasana. Bet you had a hard time pronouncing that as well. I’m still not a 100% sure what Namaste means? Isn’t this little exercise all for women anyway? And besides I don’t look good in tights. I never have. My curves are no longer curves. In fact never really were curves. I look more like a drunken isosceles triangle wearing track pants. When I tell my friends I’m becoming a little more civilized and cultured and practicing yoga there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to it. Sometimes there’s an uncomfortable moment or two. After all I do carry a purse. Some call it a murse. When I was a kid I carried one of my Mother’s old patterned bags. It’s much easier to pull off as a kid I suspect, but I still do it today nevertheless. I remember walking into a boardroom in DC and the look from a participant was one of incredulity and homophobic disdain. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we live in the 21st century. For me carrying a purse is a practical reality. It has things I need in it, like pens, notepaper, gum and of course a good book. You never know when you’re going to get stuck on an elevator and need something to read. Right now I’m carrying Slavo Zizek’s Event. My favorite philosopher of late and my last read was Peter Buffet’s book Life Is What You Make It. That’s Warren’s son.
Shelley is my instructor. I feel really comfortable with her. She teaches in the Iyengar tradition, which is heavy on rebuilding, inclusion and healing. I never thought I would be, on any given Sunday night, resting in Viparita Karani. That’s legs up the wall. Now I’m just showing off. Yoga is without a doubt a little like sex. As W.C. Fields so aptly said, “And besides the positions are ridiculous.”
Shelley always seems to know what our class needs. It’s a restorative type of Yoga. We hold poses for a significant amount of time and I’ve been known to fall asleep. I’m sure that the odd person wants to toss a bolster or two at me while I snore away. A sandbag in the stomach while reclining in Shavasna would do the trick for sure. Might be a little counterproductive to the whole restorative thing and a little abrupt. A tad too aggressive for most Yoga classes.
Sometimes there’s incense burning in the studio. The smell reminds me of my time in South East Asia. Mostly Cambodia. Such great memories. You can read a few of my earlier blogs to get a sense for why I love the history, the people and the country. Been there about 12 times in the past 11 years or so. And I will be back. The Kingdom of Mystery.
I go to Kula in Oakville. Candles are often glowing in the windowsills. It’s usually pretty relaxed. Lights are down low and the energy is a blend of meditative calm and mild mannerisms. I love it. It’s good for my soul and reconnects me. It always grounds and recharges me in a variety of ways.
Yoga is really about trust. You have to feel at ease and relaxed when participating. That’s where the mood of the studio, the scent and the candles come in. I do love the little things.
I’m often the only guy in the room and that used to make me feel a bit vulnerable. You know, like, a bit of an outsider. In some ways the X chromosomes were shouting at my pride, “Yoga is for women.” Besides I don’t look good in tights – right. Already mentioned that. And from what I’ve heard you can see through the ones from LuLu Lemon these days. That’s just not cool. My construction buddies would not be impressed.
I’m crummy at meditating though. It’s a tough thing to do. Try it for 5 seconds. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. I bet you by second 3 you’re thinking about a pair of gardening gloves you lost 17 years ago. And for some reason you’re pretty sure they had one finger missing on the left hand. This led to a prick from a rose bush and a sound argument for why dollar store bandaids are useless. This in turn gets you thinking about the washing machine that isn’t broken and how you haven’t yet read all of the weeks daily papers. It’s at this moment you remember that you were supposed to mediate for all of 5 seconds. Okay let’s try that again. Within a breath or two you remember that you’re convinced the grocery flyers that arrived yesterday night are nowhere to be found in the living room of your house and you’re convinced you left them by the coffee table right next to your leather bound, signed by Ollivander, limited edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Right. Breathe. Easy fella.
I’m still crummy at meditating, but I am getting better. I’m more centered and focused these days. I can sometimes relax. The tension in my shoulders and neck is almost gone. I’m aware of my breath. Actually I’m just more aware. It’s not a panacea to the ills of modern day living, but it brings me closer to myself, my family and my surroundings. I don’t draw any kind of religious comfort from the experience, but I will say that it is profoundly spiritual for me – meta-physical, mental and spiritual.
Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to reconnect with the world in a variety of ways. Taking back my center is what Yoga has been about for me. Purse, Y chromosomes and all.
David Peck – May 2014