Sunday, September 7, 2008

Confessions of a Wayward Yogi

A high percentage of the bloggers I read are teachers of Yoga, according to their credits, so these humble words may only be an off-pitch chorus to a well-rehearsed choir because, in truth, my practice has been erratic at best.

My first wife, older and so much more experienced in life than I, was a teacher, gorgeous and alluring as she practiced between me and the TV set once kids had been read and sung to sleep. We might have been headed for our own snuggles, but she routinely took the time to replenish herself, citing Hindu scripts and chanting a language way too foreign for my rock and rolling ears.

I grew attracted, however, recognizing that several of the poses were so similar to stretches I had discovered myself, warming up for soccer games in my earlier life. As my mates kicked and jostled nervously, I would be off to one side quietly saluting the moment as a way of preparation that just felt good from deep inside.

The influence of my teacher--and her teachers--was strong enough that when we separated, I maintained sanity in my tiny transition room under my sister’s garage by an almost hourly practice of Yoga and meditation. Unable to sleep well, the insistent and imperturbable ocean roar outside guided my breath. The postures brought an internally terrified young man a little peace.

A flamboyant rebel to routine, my practice has always been irregular and without structure. I tend to move in no prescribed pattern, but flow into postures like floodwaters rushing along a path of least resistance. Held long or short, standing or sitting, the motion comes from somewhere deep inside, and lifts my spirit as well as tones my body. The practice is always best when my mind goes quiet, my heart lies open, my muscles unclench. I remember that ocean breath, and my body stretches further into the pose; another wave rolls in, and I am deeper still.

In the rush and madness of financial and emotional stress, however, my practice has been overlooked, suspended regularly by the crisis at hand, the ocean too far away to feel its presence. How infuriating it is, that when drowning, the very air we need to survive is just over our heads, available to fill our lungs with life energy if only we could reach the surface, but still we sink lower…

In the aftermath, the construction mess of this second separation has not been conducive to laying my nose to the floor. Coincidentally to the loss of my practice, however, has come a resurgence of play on the soccer field. Lucky enough to be welcomed back to the game, I arrogantly have jumped right into foot-to-foot contact with guys half my age without taking the time to warm up, confidently believing if I can play at all at my ripe old age, why bother to stretch and center?

The answer, so obvious to all others, seems to have eluded me completely, that same rebel who so flamboyantly has crossed boundaries in marriage and business.

Not anyone special, not an elite citizen granted dispensation to lead an abundantly easy life, my failures have taught me the lesson of appreciation for the gifts we have each and most days. Incredibly fortunate to trust my legs to carry me one more hour back and forth, protecting our goal (I am smart enough to leave the hard running and scoring to the younger guys), I relish the games each week, the time spent with my son, and our friends, on Sunday afternoons.

So in the hopes of continued play and life, I have begun to stretch again each morning, practicing Yoga in my own personal way. I salute the sun at first with an aching stiffness, despite a good night’s sleep, and gradually reach the floor with an ease that can breathe in the Ocean's roar for yet another day.
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Hayden Tompkins said...

Stretching within as without...

Laurie said...

I have never gotten into yoga but I've recently returned to racquetball, the sport I played a great deal in college. I have discovered the importance of stretching before playing as I injured my foot last spring from not warming up properly.

I've always had a difficult time with meditation. I'm not sure what all counts. What is meditation to you?

Anonymous said...

Like yourself my practice has been sporadic over the past couple of years, although I am hoping and intending for that to change.

Another lovely post Kip, you are one of the few bloggers that I look forward to reading the words that you share. On the whole, my blog love tends to gravitate towards the visual. I'm drawn to images first and words 2nd. But not with you blog, it's your words that draw me primarily :-)

Humanus said...

Yoga is a way of relaxation and feeling yourself an individuality. When you practice joga, you feel like you are free from any negative emotions.

rebecca said...

this piece resonates with peace and tranquility much like the gift yoga gives to one who practices. i've tried yoga several times and i have not been a very good student because my body is far more stiff than it is fluid and i find so many of the poses rather difficult. but that is, of course, my fault because nothing that is good for you is ever gained so easily. persistance to stay with it it has always eluded, yet it is persistance to try it again that brings me back. someday i will learn.