The more I do yoga, the less I know about yoga

My lifelong relationship with yoga is one of the reasons I always wanted to travel to India.

I feel like a ridiculous hippie writing that down. But it’s true. (And this blog will get quite boring if I am not honest with you.)

I did not actually plan on doing any yoga when I was in India earlier this year. I just wanted to understand more about the country and take it easy by going on a tour with my friend.

But when I saw the sign advertising yoga right around the corner from one of the places we stayed, I knew I had to go.

Entrance to yoga class.

A few of my new friends and I woke up early to make it there for 8:00 am.

Ready for anything.

There were marigolds everywhere.

Posters decorated the walls featuring our yoga teacher in impossibly bendy postures. In some of them, someone had Photoshopped light beaming from his third eye.

The class opened with chanting and incense. We were told to keep calm and focus our minds.

Waiting for class to start.

Our teacher delighted in and encouraged our laughter. Not to mistake his good humour with the class being easy. He pushed us to do a lot of advanced poses and excitedly cheered us on when we succeeded.

But right after he got up to cheer someone on with a “GUUUUD”, it was back to the front to encourage us all to focus on our breath.

It was a lot like a yoga class at home and yet … nothing at all like home.

As a teenager, I had started practising yoga from a book I found on my parent’s shelf.

My excuse? There were far more Border’s Books than yoga studios in the suburbs where I grew up. Also, I had no car. Or money.

Seven years into my practice, I started teaching yoga at a summer camp. My positive experiences working with kids inspired me to take a proper yoga teacher training course.

After spending weeks deconstructing every pose and breath, I left the course not even sure if I knew how mountain pose correctly.

Mountain pose: as complicated as you want it to be.

We also talked about the harmful practice of taking the cultural and spiritual elements of yoga and using them without having a deeper understanding of them.

By this, I mean things like chanting things we don’t understand and decorating the room with statues of gods we don’t even know the names of. I felt extremely self-conscious about how I had participated in all this without giving it much thought.

I stopped doing yoga for a while after becoming a certified teacher. It took me over a year to wind my way back to my own practice.

One of the things that helped me get started again was finding a teacher with a practice that was deeply rooted in meditation. (Check our Carly, she’s so great.) After staying with Carly for about 5 years, I’m off on my own again.

Every night, I do yoga in a corner of my bedroom just like I did when I first got started.

And I am still no closer to getting my nose to touch my knees than I was 18 years ago.

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