Here comes 2022!
This new year day, January 1st, 2022, will mark the 19th year that Yoga Loka has been in business! It is a great accomplishment, but as I have always said, a class is only a class if a student shows up, just like a story is only a story if someone is really listening.
As we sail into our 19th year I want to once again thank you all for your efforts, your practice, your attention, your trust, and your stories. Everything that you have all shared with me over the years is like a precious gift, whether it was about your families, your work and hobbies, your struggles and your successes. People sometimes ask me if it is hard to hold so many stories, but really it is an honor and a privilege to have these shared with me. One of the superpowers that has arisen from my practice over the years seems to be the ability to listen and hear when something is off and not in alignment with the story teller- whether that is because the timeline is inaccurate, the players were misunderstood (and therefore mis-cast) or the meaning of the story has not yet been understood or acknowledged by the teller. I think one of the most important things I have done in the past 19 years is to help people reframe their stories and therefore integrate them, whether that is by helping them to explore how their body is working, how the emotions are interfering, or how the importance of the story blown out of proportion, or minimized.
One of the things that has come out of this community we share is friendship. I know some really deep ones have formed, and it is very gratifying to know that Yoga Loka was able to facilitate that. I know it is a struggle now that we are just appearing on zoom, but never fear- we can still connect online, and after all, zoom only is not a forever-thing, it is just a for-right-now-thing.
Last week I wrote about how we have lots of workshops coming up. I hope that if you find connecting in asana classes over zoom challenging, you will consider trying a workshop or two. The workshop format gives you a chance to ask questions and clarify what might be confusing, to connect with others, to ask many many questions, to take notes, and to rewind and play the video again to hear what you might have missed, or what you just need to hear again. And since many of these workshops are multi-day experiences, you will find a "group" does form. You will connect in the way you need during these isolating times, perhaps even at a deeper level considering how isolated these times actually are.
Click here to check out the worskhop page for the list of what is scheduled so far. And there is more to come! I can't wait for you to see all that is planned for 2022! We may be living in wacky times right now, but remember that your source is always within you, and the wacky-ness of the times is really the thing that pushes us further in towards that source. Just keep looking for the things that bring you back to your source and you will be fine. And taking that journey with others is always better (like in a workshop!). And yes, even a workshop on hamstrings can be the thing! You just never know, so stay alert and tranquil, and stay tuned.
Please use this coupon code for any of the below 2022 workshops for a 22% discount at checkout. More information can be found on the workshop page:
Doing yoga while old and cold
I started doing yoga when I was about 19 years old. I was born with a flexible and strong body and the poses came pretty easy to me. It was of course still work, but it was more like dancing than working out. Obviously the yoga bug bit me and I've been practicing ever since. That was about 30 years ago. And like everybody else, my body has changed quite a lot in those 30 years.
I remember seeing yoga for “over 50” advertised and thinking, ``What's the big deal? Isn't 50 just like 40 and isn't 40 just like 30?” Now I realize the answer is a big fat no. I turned 55 this June and I really feel the difference in my physicality. I noticed things starting to shift when I turned 50, but each year on top of 50 is making a difference. What are those differences? I'm not as strong and I'm not as flexible and I don't have the desire to do as many as the fancy things my 19 and 20 year old body used to do. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying! Now add to the 55-year-old body 30° weather. It's true that the warm weather does make us more fluid and flexible and limber and the cold weather does the exact opposite. So when it started to get cold out I began to feel all the 55 years in with the 30 degree cold and thought “Whose body is this?”
Doing yoga asana while old and cold (and wearing many layers) feels like I am in a strangers body. And you know what? I love it! It might sound crazy, but for somebody who spent many years doing yoga and not actually feeling anything in their body, to feel the restrictions and the stiffness and the tightness is actually quite lovely. It has made me more tender-hearted towards my body. Feeling the limitations of my physicality has revealed a give and take, surrender and effort, which I didn't have when I was younger and was able to easily demand so much from my body. There's also a fragility which I have come to appreciate. In a way it separates the “who I am” from the body that “I am not”. The great enlightened sage, Ramana Maharashi, suggested we ask ourselves if we are not this mind, and we are not this body, then what are we? This question makes more sense to me now that my body is not as reliable as it once was. That's where the fragility comes in. There's a kind of separation between my body “the vehicle” and what I am, as well as a deeper appreciation for this vehicle than I've had before, and an understanding that this is in fact merely a vehicle. An important one for sure, but still just a vehicle.
I've also found that my yoga asana practice is no longer about being better at doing something as it was for many years. It's also not about curing something that is wrong or out of place, it's about restoring, maintaining, and showing reverence. This gives a different, and hopefully more mature, perspective on my practice. As a result it's changed many of the ways I relate to important parts of my being, as well as to the aging process.
For many years I would hear from students older than myself how much they needed the practice. I didn't quite understand that then but I certainly do understand it now. One of the struggles that younger people can have doing yoga is staying consistent with their practice. I imagine this will change when the practice has become a necessity, and that there's no going forward without it. Practicing becomes a choiceless choice when we realize yoga doesn't just help accentuate our life, it is our life. Many people feel that freedom is in having a plethora of choices, but wiser ones realize that freedom is really being presented with the choiceless choice.
Check out the workshop page for seminars that will help you while you are old and cold: