Sunday, June 7, 2009
What Would Yoga Do?
Confession: I am a show-off. I have made this admission before, and while it may not be outwardly visible during my practice, it is definitely going on in my head, and especially when I'm taking from teachers I consider "fancy". I have these little imaginary dialouges wherein some teacher approaches me after class while I'm beautifically putting away my mat and says things like:
What a beautiful practice you have.
Who, me? Thank you. I just...you know, I just love it so much.
You're amazing. I couldn't stop watching you.
Would you like to follow me around and be my star pupil?
(And so on...)
I really thought that these kinds of fantasies were restricted to my acting life (like the one where the limo comes skidding to the side of the road and George Clooney rolls down the window and asks me to come with him right now to audition for the new movie he's producing) but apparently magical thinking has no boundaries...
Why did I bring this up? Ah yes...I brought it up to say that I am now attempting to use these flights of fancy as objects to work with in my practice. Meaning, if I feel myself concocting scenarios in which some teacher is deeming me Best In Class, instead of just pushing it out of my mind and declaring it un-yogic, I try to just...notice it. Just--aha, I'm doing that again. And I breathe. And I remind myself, gently, to return to the practice. I remind myself that my practice is for no one but myself, and I turn in and turn in and turn in. And you know something? It's working. I have been studying with so many new teachers these past few months and it has been the rare class in which I felt I was practicing half for myself and half for whomever might be watching.
The desire to be recognized is a strong and pernicious thing, don't you think? I don't know...maybe none of you have this problem...maybe your demons are other colors, but this is something I struggle with a lot. (Which, I'm certain, is why I chose to be an actor...the opportunities to wrestle with it being so plentiful). But I am once again just so grateful to have this space of my mat upon which to practice all the situations of my life. Because that's really what we're doing, isn't it? "Practice" isn't about the asana or the breath as much as it is about the practice of being with ourselves in all these states, and then practicing not getting carried away by them, and then practicing breathing through them, and then practicing standing at the center of all of them.
When I am really witness to that...the practice working on all these places where I am stuck...I feel like I have stumbled into some...mecca. I want to run up to sad-faced people on the street and ask them if they have found yoga yet? Sir! Have you accepted yoga into your heart? Do you know that yoga loves you? I am a mushy-minded convert.
That settles it...tomorrow I head to Mexico to start handing out bracelets that say WWYD. What Would Yoga Do?