Happy International Day of Yoga, internet!
In honor of today's theme, I figured I would share my personal yoga journey (since apparently that's a thing).
When I was 13 or so, my mom brought me to her yoga class (as a former bra-burning hippy, she was an early adopter to the recent resurgence of yoga). I don't remember much of the class, except I showed aptitude in bow pose. It was the type of yoga class one would expect a former hippy to attend: incense, meditation, breath work, barely breaking a sweat, and geared towards those already indoctrinated. Needless to say I didn't go back (I was at the age where I would rather keep my hard earned money than shell out $20 a class, hell I'm still at that age).
In college, I didn't do much with yoga, unless you count begrudgingly stretching after practice. It just seemed so inaccessible. Yoga people were not like me. They wore natural deodorant and brushed their teeth with baking soda toothpaste. They wore long skirts and didn't shave their armpits. They slack-lined in-between classes and believed in enlightenment attainable by a good, powerful "om." The activity had been claimed with a healing crystal by neo-hippies with a closed door policy to anyone outside of their vibe.
Last year, a friend recommended Yoga With Adriene, a YouTube yoga channel, and I have since become a yoga devotee (a brief synopsis of the YouTube channel: 5-60 minute yoga videos to suit a wide spectrum of wants; if you're looking for a quick post-run stretching sequence, she's got it; if you're looking for a killer ab workout, she's got it; if you're looking for a mediation practice, she's got it [and so on and so on]). I started incorporating yoga into my weekly workouts, realizing that my running-induced injuries could be prevented with some good stretching, and yoga once a week compensated for six days of running with no stretching (I know, I know, stretching is so important). But the yoga worked. I could easily spare 30 minutes a week to stretch from the comfort of my own home, at a time convenient for my schedule (I had tried a similar post-run yoga stretching routine from Runner's World, but it was too fast and I was too unfamiliar with the poses). I hated doing core work, but knew it was something I should do to complement my running, and Adriene's Core Strength Ritual video made it digestible (and was preferable to sit-ups that often strain one's neck). In January, for the past three years, Adriene has done a 30 days of yoga program. This year, I tried it and learned a secret; yoga IS accessible, it is inherently so.
In my experience, yoga is all about breathing and practice, and, conceptually, life is one very long yoga class. We measure our moments through breath (our hearts and lungs literally do this regardless of our "enlightened" consciousness). Prior to starting a regular home yoga practice, I unknowingly had been practicing daily yoga, just not on a mat or with savasana or vinyasa. There were no chaturangas or downward dogs in my practice, but I was still doing yoga. If yoga is, at its essence, moment with intention, measured by breath, every run I ever went on was yoga (go on the same 5 mile run for a year and tell me that witnessing the passage of time through seasonal changes is not a spiritual event). Every lap I ever swam was yoga (swim a mile and tell me that undulation, and thinking only of breathing is not meditation). "The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness," so today, on International Day of Yoga, you don't have to do an inversion, headstand, or a sun salutation; you just have to practice consciousness of movement. In a time when so much of life has become digitized, habitualized, or operating on autopilot, practice intention. Infuse all of your bodily actions with purpose, and pay attention to your self, your surroundings, and the world. That is, after all, an act of resistance (and peaceful nonviolence #ahimsa #Yamas).