The System of Yoga

The San Diego yoga scene thrives. On every corner at certain times of day, someone is carrying a yoga mat. What a beautiful sight. These folks are taking time from their schedules to commit to a pursuit of calm and wellbeing. This I will always celebrate.

In 2005, I studied Astanga in Mysore with Pattabhi Jois. We were—all of us—Westerners in his shala; we wore lycra or sports bras or athletic gear; we aimed to impress through our poses. At my homestay, however, my empty-nesting Mysore foster parents introduced me to the idea of a yoga much different than what I found at sunrise with Sri Pattabhi. They wore their pajamas and lingered on the mat with a cup of tea nearby. They breathed… a lot. Legs were bent; arms were loose. I remember thinking they did their Warriors like they didn’t mean it.

And then they just sat. They sat quietly and they breathed. I didn’t know, at the time, what to do with the silence. I watched them; I lingered in the peace they created.

Now I know better. What they were doing was yoga. Just way more of it than I was used to.

Or, maybe, they were engaged in yoga. They were following yoga. Practicing it. Using the system. The whole of it. They were engaged with the guidance that yoga provides to help all of us become calm.

Which means they did it to suit themselves. They took what worked for them and left out what didn’t. They knew what would work because they paid attention to the response in their body and mind. They did it together or separately. They didn’t do it to impress anyone but only as a gift to their future selves. As preparation for the inevitable moment when they would pass.

And I don’t mean to be morbid… but that moment is, for all of us, an absolute certainty. Which means we may as well consider our best options to feel joy now.

This I’d like to share with you. The idea that you don’t have to look good or power through anything to reacquaint yourself with your best options. The idea that you do what’s right for you, you explore movement, breath and silence to create calm, and you learn to judge for yourself how to follow the system appropriately for you.

I’ve been so fortunate to find a remarkable teacher in Gary Kraftsow, of the American Viniyoga Institute. With his guidance and his careful transmission of the learning he received from his teacher (and his teacher’s teacher, etc.), I’m committed to sharing yoga that is appropriate to you. You’ll be guided to remember your own strengths and to use them to discover habits that don’t serve you. You’ll learn to listen to your inner wisdom. And you may become inspired, as so many do, to share what you learn with those around you. You may be interested to read about the CEO of Aetna, also a student of the American Viniyoga Institute, and his journey to health with yoga.

You’re strong but the strength and intelligence to follow the system of yoga may surprise you. The best path yoga offers is deliberate, breath-driven, absolutely dependent on your willingness to pay attention to yourself.

Join me for a class at Eye of Buddha. Or contact me directly for a private session, either at your home, workplace or my studio. I’m also available for corporate meditation workshops.

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