Okay, I’m on the yoga kick this evening. And, hey, right now I have too much time on my hands. I just sent my publisher the final, final corrections to my book, Sixty, Sex & Tango and I feel like I have just given birth. I am excited and elated and let down because my baby has slid into the planet to fly on its own. I am no longer able to stare at the most tiny font ever invented and put my corrections into the smallest boxes ever created. It took weeks to get this done, but finally after I verified a quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, I was able to click the send button. My tango friend/organizer leapt for joy and wanted to do a book signing. All I could think about was that I need a very long vacation in Bali. No can do. I’m still a working girl. However, I’m taking a long week’s vacation in Bali in August and that has to be sufficient.
So it was Sunday afternoon and I knew there was going to be a yin yoga class at my home studio in Brentwood. I needed down time. By home studio I mean the space that inspired my yoga practice for years in the 1990’s and early 2000 – the place where my sons and their then girlfriends also practiced yoga every Sunday morning – and we all packed into the Brentwood studio to have Steve Ross lead us in the most unconventional yoga practice you could imagine, complete with the coolest non-yoga music. It was a sweat box and we really got a workout.
But Steve has a passion for yin yoga – stretching and meditating for two hours accompanied by traditional yoga music. He doesn’t really believe in all that yang energy (very energetic, flowing movements); he thinks its actually unnecessary except for the people who want several weekly doses for their workouts. I actually agree with Steve’s concept that yin is the yoga to practice. Today, I teach six to seven classes a day and my style is flow, energetic movement with pauses for breath in between.
But when I take a class of late, I want to stretch and meditate. Stretching opens up the resistant areas in the body and releases negative feelings and emotions we carry with us for our so-called protection. Yin yoga is a meditative cleansing ritual by which the body fills with prana – breath, life force – and removes the toxicity in and around our mind and body. Yin is not for the faint of heart: we hold the these stretching positions for quite awhile – probably five minutes or more. Anything less cannot affect our mind/ body resistance.
It’s amazing how resistant we are in mind and body. Years of teaching have given me the eyes to see resistance in yoga students. I can even be talking to someone and spot resistance in others. People manifest resistance in rigid bodies and judging minds. It’s more comfortable to keep the old tapes lodged in our minds; it cleverly prevents us from engaging in a new situation or an idea. “I like what I like because I like it.”
Yoga helps us into a more enlightening circumstance. It’s the old Plato’s cave again. Seeing half light; never really engaging in the full light; side-stepping the conscious mind. Happy in the unconscious state. It’s not a happy place to live – in the cave, in the shadows.
At the end of class, after a beautiful resting pose where we let our minds drift and our bodies surrender with acceptance, Steve, who had just spent a week with Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) began to speak briefly about desire and want and how the concept of wanting keeps us attached to things or people. The more we want, the more we desire, the more we grow attached to that which we think we must have. This causes unhappiness and unhappiness causes struggle and creates conflict – then it’s back to the unhappiness quotient.
Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.
Simon Weil, French philosopher.
The Buddhists say that our life is simply a transition on the way to dying. Everything we think we possess in our life is really only borrowed. I say that I’m just renting everything I have because I really possess nothing. I’m given great gifts but only temporarily: my parents, my sons, my grandchildren, my friends, my yoga practice, my abilities. Although they are transitory, I can love them with great passion and exuberance and for that I am grateful.
Steve was an influence in my life and he continues to be so on a spiritual level. We approached each other after class. I told him that you can come home, that Maha Yoga is my home and that it will always be my spiritual center for I learned and was trained as a yoga teacher in that space, a sacred space of light and love.
As Steve would say: “It’s all good, Joan.”