Monday, May 14, 2007

Bit by Bit

I've just written an ambitious to-do list with the deadline the end of the month. How will I get it all done? Well the cliche we've all heard ... "the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step" comes to mind. A little work now, a little tomorrow, keep at it. Sensible, hard to believe unless you KNOW it works, and I KNOW it works.

At 29 I didn't like how stiff my body was so I decided to learn yoga -- that was in the VERY dark ages before anyone, let alone in tiny towns such as I lived in, was doing yoga. I had one book ... and gradually a library of them before there were classes except those I, uncredentialed but enthusiastic, taught in our town. What I learned, in the sinews of my body, the hamstring in particular, was that just a few minutes a day, EVERY day, makes a huge difference. What I taught myself back then I'm still practicing ... not as religiously as I wish. But I KNOW that a little every day accomplishes much. I'm not sure I'll finish the list by the end of the month. I know I will finish. And I know the stiffness and difficulties of a hip replacement will be overcome when I walk in the Andes next fall -- after a summer of daily walks and exercises (mostly yoga)

And I can say that such physical practice becomes more than physical, the lesson translates to being patient, working steadily at other things. I can also say that most of what is called "Yoga" in classes today is not yoga but simply physical exercises. To me true yoga has nothing to do with going to classes; it is about being alone in a room without distractions, your attention directed entirely [eyes closed] on what you are doing with your body. It is a meditation in very slow motion. And it is not something one brags about, one does not show off the asanas learned. It is a private practice. I write about it now because I am disturbed by the way everything is commercialized, by the 101-- or 1001 -- varieties offered. The physical yoga [hatha] is only one of many anciently practiced, it existed not as an end in itself but as preparation for the mental yogas which were so demanding that physical stamina was needed. Well, I'm not going there ... but there are rewards all along the path.

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