Can you think back on an activity, idea, or tool that others have been using for ages, one you’ve known about but stayed away for all sorts of reasons? And then, one day, you come upon this thing, seeing it as if for the first time and say to yourself, Now here’s something I’d like to know more about!
Everyone and their dog seems to be doing yoga or, at minimum, wearing yoga pants to work and play. I’ve mostly stayed clear of yoga classes, scoffed at the craze, cited bad back and wooden leg as excuses. Truth be told, I did so because I felt embarrassed at moving so awkwardly, afraid of being seen a fool.
Last weekend friends who own Semperviva Studios held their bi-annual yoga retreat on Galiano Island and asked me to offer morning meditation. Afterwards they invited me to stay for a hatha yoga class. I didn’t say No this time. Found myself a mat instead, near the back of the room, far from the beaming instructor. As you might have guessed, I liked it: after just half an hour (which was the extent of my ego suspension), I felt heat in my belly and hips.
Yoga, writes Andrew Harvey, derives from the Sanskrit yui, which means, among other things, to join, direct, concentrate upon, and union and communion. Hatha means force and represents the union between of two forces, ha sun, tha moon. Harvey’s first yoga teacher told to him that “hatha yoga is the ancient Indian system of physical postures and breathing exercises that balances the opposing feminine and masculine forces in the body, the ‘sun’ and the ‘moon’ in you. When these are balanced, you will be healthy and supple and graceful and your mind will be peaceful.” Sounds good to me: supple and graceful I’m not, but sure would like to be. The older I get, the more my joints creak when I get up and the more ungainly I feel when trying to jump tall buildings.
Harvey’s teacher then refined her explanation in a way that intrigues me even more. “The real goal of hatha yoga,” she told him, “is not to reinforce or bolster your narcissism but to provide your divine self with a perfect violin on which it can play its marvellous music.” This seem in synch with my dogged practice of sitting still in meditation, my efforts to make a nest so that the peace-dove (see yesterday’s post) can come to rest … and bathe in the sounds of sweet music.
source: Harvey, A. (2000). The direct path: creating a personal journey to the divine using the world’s spiritual traditions. New York: Broadway Books, pp.218-219.