A Word on the Present or the Season’s Greetings

Christmas_Card.001Shortest day
or the longest night
Life is choices – W.Sorlien
For me, the holiday begins on the day of the winter solstice. I can hardly think of any particular day of the year that feels so hopeful like the day after that. Although, it doesn’t get any lighter here at least for another month or so, I reckon that it is almost the first day the spring. I suppose this was how the people of the olden days felt and made a whole celebration around it.
Unfortunately, for most of people, it is not this simple. This time of the year means replacing the burden of work duties with a gnawing sense of an obligation to review the past year and make resolutions to become what they feel is a better person, parent with a better, nicer life as if it is possible to transform into that ideal self over the course of a week or two or overnight, no less.
I would say that life is a continuous flow with a few waterfalls spread throughout, where we ceaselessly chase an ideal self, which seems to get away from us whenever we come closer. The ideal self, the better person, the better parent, the better daughter are unattainable obscure goals; they are almost deliberately designed to be failed at. Instead of forcing the disappointment and guilt of the past and the anxieties, expectations of the future, yoga teaches us the possibility of enjoying the present. This is easier said than done, all the same it is worth the shot. May this be a time where you let go off all expectations and pretences of yourself and just breathe and be.

Why I do yoga

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…