So, Andrei brought to me a fun beginning yoga book called, Yoga For Wimps by Miriam Austin. I glanced at the pages – my kind of book – lots of photos and not too much detailed instruction unless warranted for the “Fix It” self-healing section. I read the introduction and Author’s notes and was on board with all she said. Then on the last page before the “Instant Yoga” poses she lost me. Folks let’s be clear. Hatha is a wonderful practice. We have all felt it healing, strengthening, and relaxing our bodies. The benefits are very individual and too numerous to list! But it is only one path or practice in the 8-fold path of yoga. I agree with Miriam Austin that we do hatha so that, through the concentration on the activity, the mind quiets a bit. (I am guilty of chat which keeps our neo-cortex wicked active. This is something of which I am painfully aware and working on!) Through the practice we often become quiet, inwardly focused on the body, on the breath and the mind can simmer down a bit. However – and here is where she and I disagree – there is no substitute for sitting in meditation. Period. We need it. It cleanses the mind of old habits and long-seated reactions to similar stimulus (aka “knee-jerk” or conditioned respnses). Hatha prepares the body for meditation by removing the obstacle of physical discomfort as we sit. So, our lovely author has done the world a service by producing a non-threatening introduction to Hatha. Perhaps she discounts meditation in order to draw students in – meditation seems scary at first so some folks are turned off to yoga altogether because of it. “It’s hard to do.” “My mind is too busy.” “My back hurts.” And sometimes the fear is religiously based – “Is it Pagan?” “Anti-Judeo-Christian?!” Of course, it isn’t. In the Bible God says, “Be still and know that I am…” Why do we reisist?
So how to begin?
Try it two minutes before you get in your car or drive from your home. Two minutes in the parking lot before work, two minutes at lunch – in the transitions of your day. Try it one day – see how it goes – and maybe you can begin a scheduled time daily. Just like brushing your teeth, meditation is another healthy habit to practice. Be not afraid of stillness. Stillness is the counter-pose for every day life.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.
Namaste, my lovely students, jean