I was thinking a good deal about the yoga culture in the West, about travel, about illusion, about Self. Do we need to travel to far off places and exotic climes to find our true Self? As Hollywood as it was, the film Eat Pray Love did make me consider this question seriously. Ok so I do admit it was also a bit of joyous eye candy for me as I sat there in my pj's nursing my newborn daughter during my first viewing. But it made me question just the same. I was once a world traveler...South America, Europe, Mexico. I was once very active in the Integral Yoga Community nearby. My pace of life changed dramatically. I was more in my robe than my jeans. I was far less apt to brush my hair. I hardly had a minute to myself to shower, let alone consciously set my mat out or my meditation rug to fully concentrate on spiritual endeavors. So what then was my practice? Could I claim to be a practicing Yogini?
This got me thinking. Perhaps thinking isn't the word, but feeling...trusting. It took a little time. It took a little forgiveness. But it came. Back to this in a moment.
No matter how rich one's spiritual life may be or how deep one may understand the little intricacies of the Self and it's illusions, there is often in human nature the inherent quality of questioning and comparison. It may be small, it may be fleeting, but it remains still in the mind. Oh our little chattering monkey mind! We look at the person next to us on the mat and know that yes, it is their personal and very unique journey that put them there in that time in space....but oh.....look at her crow pose! Or wow, he traveled far and wide, lived blissfully on the beach for two months and ate organic fruits and other raw delectables. Should I be doing something different? Maybe that brownie I had last night is affecting my practice, my mood, my very progress. Did I even check to see what was in the brownie before I ate it?
So that little voice came to me one day as I browsed the web catching up on some of my favorite yoga blogs. That voice came to me- the questioning one which seemed to prompt this post and a full articulation of my thoughts.
I am not attending any far away retreats. I have not traveled far and wide to study with a famous yogi or yogini although I consider those I have studied with (loving disciples of Swami Satchidananda and Shree Ma) some of the most amazing practitioners and yogis I have ever met. I don't purchase special yoga clothes or mats or props. (Although I loooove to look at them.) I have not attended a yoga class since I gave birth to my daughter a year ago. Sometimes my mantra is more Dr. Seuss than Durga.
Instead, I pose when I can. I create malas in the precious time my daughter sleeps. I bless them and smile knowing that they will reach loving hands. Heck, I even get to meditate if my daughter remains sleeping! I kiss my babe's foot like the foot of a guru. I watch how she takes joy in the simplest tiniest of things and I make sure to learn from each precious moment. I teach her a mudra and how to say Om. I tweet and blog about Yoga and have met more great souls than I ever could have imagined out in cyber space. I chant and sing kirtan. I try and stay present. I breathe. I cultivate gratitude.
There will be a time where I will venture out again into the Yoga community. But I am left with the questions still.... and now an answer alongside it. Could I claim to be truly practicing, truly evolving in a rather insulated environment? Could I make these malas and spiritual items and be for real, be a representation of my true Self. Be contributing to the greater Consciousness?
And so my thoughts go out to the yogis and yoginis on the fringe, to the mommas who don't have much time to do their hatha, to the students who don't have the money for classes or retreats. Yoga is everyday. Yoga is life. Yoga is the way you smile at a stranger. Yoga is the way you talk to your spouse, or your mom, or your dog. Yoga is how you prepare a meal, how you bathe, how you breathe. You practice everywhere, with everything.
Yoga is now. You are Yoga. And yes, you can claim it as your own.
Peace, Love and Light-L