Yoga: Workout or Church?

For the past few years my New Year’s resolution has been to get more flexible; more specifically, to be able to touch my toes. I have never been a stretcher, it takes too long and I get bored with my poor range of motion—my hamstrings are tighter than a new pledge class of fraternity brothers who have just finished their hazing rituals. I finally let myself get talked into trying Yoga. Initially, it started as a way for me to accomplish my flexibility goals, but evolved into something completely different.

The first 60 minutes is an intense workout, my shirt is soaked 30 minutes in. Sweat beads off my nose and onto my mat faster than tears fell when I watched “Click.” My muscles burn and my body shakes as I work into what I shortly find out are only entry level poses, I am struggling. The instructor informs me that yoga is all about the struggle. Phew, I was worried I wasn’t going to “get” it. I can’t imagine being able to take the poses any further only to look up and have my mind blown as people accomplish them gracefully; I am impressed and proud of them, getting there will take practice. The workout winds down and I flop onto my back like a fish onto a cutting board to be filleted. The last 15 minutes is spent lying comfortably in silence, eyes closed. This is your time for reflection, nothing is good, nothing is bad, it just is and you try your best to be ok with it. Some days I can’t quiet my mind so I just let myself be amazed where it takes itself when I let it go, like when you’re Facebook creepin’ and you suddenly realize you don’t know how or why you are on the person’s page you’re on. Some days I have no concept of the 15 minutes, and my mind sits in that area of conscious where you’re not quite asleep, but you’re not quite awake either. It feels good, it is good. By the end of the 75 minute sessions I feel better, happier and more focused on living my life in the moment than I have in a long time and it is only 7:45am. I am refocused and calm for the time being, petty annoyances have faded. After my forth session my flexibility goals are taking a back seat to starting my day calm and refreshed on life.

Yoga has filled a void that I didn’t even realize I needed filled. I leave feeling like what I imagine most people feel like when they leave church. What I feel church and religion is supposed to do for a person if you’re doing it right. I dropped out of Catholicism class a week before getting confirmed because I didn’t want to write a 2 page essay. Well, that’s the superficial reason. The genuine reason is that the teachings of the Catholic Church didn’t do it for me, personally. I never felt good about it and that’s ok. I wouldn’t call myself an atheist, just someone who hasn’t found something that resonated with what I believe. I have never looked to follow a new religion because I don’t feel the need to. However, that 15 minute meditation time at the closing of Yoga (called a savasana) made me curious about Buddhism as an organized religion and led me to watch the PBS documentary “The Buddha,” (Netflix Instant watch) which tells about his life and how he feels life should be lived. Everything seems anti-micromanagement, no one is delegating what you can and can’t do but just acknowledging that everyone wants happiness and you are your own master on how you get yourself there. Daddy likey.

One of the psychiatrists interviewed for the documentary shares a quote from Ajahn Chah describing living in the moment:

Do you see this glass? I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. But when the wind blows and the glass falls off the shelf and breaks or if my elbow hits it and it falls to the ground I say of course. But when I know that the glass is already broken every minute with it is precious.

This is your life, this moment right here. Live it.

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The picture of the daisy was taken in Sausalito, just North of San Francisco.

Added a landing page for iTorturer and a new update to download with in-app purchases should be up soon!

I also added few items to the bucket list.

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