Recently, I’ve been interviewed for the student magazine of the university here. The interview was about a specific yoga class that I started teaching last year (maybe, more on being interviewed about yoga later).
At some point in this interview, I was asked to give some good reasons why people should do yoga. That was too difficult a question for me to answer. Instead, I told them why I do yoga: to win back (at least some of ) the freedom of movement that, like every human, I am losing as my body gets older and stiffer and to remember the freedom of imagination that we all have as a child but usually forget as we grow up.
I am not naturally flexible or strong and I didn’t start doing yoga until I was almost 36, so my body was already pretty rigid and I was really not very fit. Whatever I am able to do now as a yoga practitioner came with continuous practice. I’ve always seen yoga classes as an opportunity to play. During the classes (and even when I swim, for that matter), I used to imagine myself as a baby elephant: cute but rather clumsy. I am less clumsy now but the image of that baby elephant is still there some of the time. Some of the time because now I can actually focus on what and how I feel instead of how I look like to others and what they might be thinking about me. Therefore, I can now have more fun during the practice, be it on my own at home or my usual yoga class at the shala. Now, I feel that I am free to explore the physical and emotional opportunities. I can tease my fears, for example, my fear of backbends because I know I am just exploring and can stop anytime I choose to. As I surrender myself to play, I feel I am more in charge of what happens when paradoxically I really don’t expect anything particular to happen. I just play and have fun.
When I have rolled my mat away, the whole yoga play is finished – nothing to be reconsidered, nothing to reminisce about or to regret. It was what it was and just that. The feeling of satva, contentment with myself and the world lingers with me the rest of the day.
And that is why I do yoga…