Sunday, October 08, 2006

Welcome to Yoga

I sat in the sauna earlier today and read a several week-old copy of Sports Illustrated. Most of the stories were about the opening of the NFL season. The lead article was called Welcome to the NFL.

The writer described the nearly universal experience of the rookie who is knocked over, and nearly knocked out, by a bigger, more experienced veteran. The elder, grinning, knowing the impact of what just happened, says to the new guy, "Welcome to the NFL."

It's an unwritten initiation rite that's probably been around since leather helmets, or no helmets at all.

I've never played in the NFL, but in the summer 1979 I finished high school in my home town in Nebraska and weeks later began a new life in Colorado as an Air Force Academy Cadet and an Air Force Falcon, an offensive guard on a Division One football team.

On probably my third day of team practice I took a forearm under the chin from a upper classman. He was also a guard, but bigger, stronger, and more experienced.

My feet left the ground. I landed on my back. The sky above was beautiful, as it was at least at some time nearly every afternoon at that altitude.

He didn't need to say it. I said it silently to myself, "Welcome to Division One football." It hurt.

The sports writer suggested that it was something unique to football. No one, after all, says welcome to tennis or welcome to track and field. I suppose he was suggesting that no other sport offers such a defining moment when you realize things ain't what they used to be.

I disagree.

I say "Welcome to Yoga" all the time. (I know. It's not a sport. But I still disagree with him.)

Usually when I teach a room full of mostly new-comers I can look out and see the tiredness and stress in their bodies. They're nervous, too, about the new experience.

I often welcome them to yoga with a pretty simple recipe you can try today:
1) I create a welcoming, attractive, and safe environment.
2) I ask them to lie down and close their eyes.
3) I talk to them with a steady pace and quiet pauses.
4) I invite them to pay attention to and relax parts of their bodies.
5) I help them pay attention to their bodies and the movement of their breaths.
6) Then I guide them through a simple stretch during which they make their bodies just a bit longer.
After that, they sit up. And they look different. They are different. I say, "Welcome to yoga."

This only takes about 5 or 6 minutes. But in that short time people can experience the effects of a practice that involves moving the body and paying attention.

It's like pushing the re-set button on life.

I ask them if they feel better. I ask them because I want them to notice.

It really doesn't take much time or skill or secret knowledge to experience a shift. Sometimes that can be as surprising as a forearm to the chin.

Some people like it and come back regularly for years. Others like it but don't make it back. Others don't see that they've made a shift and really don't know why they'd give it a go again. So I usually don't see them again.

If you're reading this, you're probably already interested in yoga. You've already tried it.

But check in right now, in this moment. How do you feel?

If you'd like to feel better try my recipe above. You can do it. Welcome to yoga, again.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was chatura. Chatura means four, as in chaturanga dandasana, the the four-limbed stick pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is pincha. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., I promised you last time I'd tell you the other yoga practice my physical therapist gave me. Here it is: he asked me to lift my knee caps up. He calls these "quad sets."

I'm sure I was asked to lift my knee caps in my very first yoga class. My yoga teacher wanted to me lift my knee caps to stabalize my knees in tadasana, mountain pose.

Brian, however asked me to lift my knee caps, repeatedly, because this pumping action reduces the swelling in my (post-surgical) knee. It clears out inflammation.

p.p.p.p.s., The Foundations of Teaching Yoga workshop on last month in Fulton, MO was a great success. What a wonderful group of yogis we spent the day with! Sallie and I thorougly enjoyed the day. And I know our teacher trainees did, too. Thanks to Sandy and the students at Natural Focus Yoga. I can't wait to conduct this workshop again.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so happy to run into your blog on Oct.8 and therefore subscribed your blog since then..But unfortunately you stopped updating on the same day. Hope you're doing great and see you update soon!!


4:57 PM  
Anonymous Hershel Reese said...

Thanks so much for the welcome! I like the concept of a yoga tip of the day.

Sat Nam

11:31 AM  
Blogger Miracle said...

I much prefer your welcome method to the NFL's.. I am enjoying your blog.. thank you for sharing! :)

7:56 PM  
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