Thursday, May 19, 2005

Alone? Together

Yoga seems like such a solitary--almost lonely--practice. No one else can do it for you.

Patanjali described ashtanga yoga, the eight limbs of yoga. They are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Each is yours to do. Yours alone. Non-harming: done by you. Study of sacred scriptures: done by you. Dog poses: you. Breath of fire: you. Withdrawal of the sense organs: still you. Just you. You alone. If you don't do it, it won't get done.

It doesn't sound very attractive. Not very inviting.

When you join a yoga class there's sometimes a group activity at the start, like chanting an invocation. And at the end we recognize one another and say "namaste." But the rest...well, it's a solo act.

I was at the hospital today with my mom. There are two kinds of patients there: those who are alone, and those who are surrounded by family and friends.

Seeing them all today made me think of this saying you might see hung up on a placard in someone's kitchen:
Shared joy
is twice the joy.
Shared sorrow
is half the sorrow.
It's ironic, isn't it, that yoga is such a solitary practice, but the word itself means union?

When you touch your toes today, think abou this. When you bend backwards today, let this thought trickle through your mind.. When you twist today, know this: you are not alone.

Thousands of people, probably millions are on the same path. In Sanakrit, it's called a kula, a clan. Chirstian teachings refer to the mystical union between the parts of the Church.

I like to think of this whenever I do surya namaskar, sun salutation. I am absolutely conviced that whenever I do it, somewhere someone is doing it with me.

Being alone is a mistaken thought. It's a deception of the senses. Like an optical illusion.

You can double your joy and halve your sorrows today simply by acknowledging what's so. You're not alone.

By the way, there's avery physical representation of this. The front of your body represents your ego, your self. Your back body represents your place in community.

When you do your postures today, express your postures from your back body. Instead of drawing your belly button back toward your spine, expand your kidneys out behind you. Instead of lifting your chest, dig your shoulder blades into your back body. When you work from your back body, you'll feel the support of the whole yoga community behind you.

Don’t just sit there. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.


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