Sunday, November 18, 2012

Y is for...


sun salutation

This is the second to last entry in my alphabet game. If you want to read them all, there is a link on my side bar under the Stuff About Me heading but you'll have to scroll down all the way to the bottom to get them in the proper sequence. Not that it really matters.


Y is for...yellow, yarrow, youth, yoga

Y is for yoga

I was introduced to yoga when I was 20 years old...I think. It could have been a year or so earlier when I was initiated into TM (that's transcendental meditation) when I was 19 but I don't really remember any instruction in yoga, just sitting in the group sessions or alone at home with legs crossed trying to ignore how uncomfortable I was becoming. The meditation thing didn't last long with me. I was only successful with it a time or two. Mostly I just fell asleep or was fidgety trying to focus on my mantra til the time was up.

But the following year, the year I lived in Chicago, some friends and I hitch-hiked to D.C. for the anti-war rally and we met some folk who were involved in Ananda Marga, a meditation group with a different spiritual leader than TM. I had become disenchanted with TM early on because they were very much about the money. They charged you to be initiated into their organization.

In D.C., my boyfriend and I had become separated from our friends and we were waiting, had been waiting for a while, at the designated 'meet up again' spot when we were approached by a couple of guys offering us respite and an eye out for our friends.

They offered us food and water and a bathroom and rest, united us with the rest of our group and found us a ride back. They asked for nothing in return. Neither did they try to convert us or entice us in any way but they were so serene and selfless and kind and you name it and so we learned some stuff about who they were. Which I am not going into now because this isn't really about them.

It happened that there were only three teachers in this country at the time who were qualified to initiate anyone into their 'meditative' life and one of them lived in Chicago. So one evening found some of us at the home of an Indian man and his family while he talked to us about his spiritual leader and meditation and yoga and then he led us in some simple yoga to relax our bodies and he initiated us one by one into meditation with a mantra. I don't remember if it was all on the same night or if it was the second time we went but what I do remember is that while he softly spoke to us, his aura expanded with a bright white light until it filled the room. Seriously. It was awesome.

My friend and I continued to go once a week for a while but we had to take the train out to a suburb and it was in the evenings because the man had a regular job and then a few months later I moved back to Texas. I did not become an adherent to the Indian guru but I did retain the yoga and the mantra.

Even though I've never been able to develop a daily or even weekly home practice I find yoga to be very beneficial and it's one of the things or habits that I attribute my fairly good health to. It keeps you limber and agile and strengthens your muscles. It massages your organs and helps them function, it rids you of toxins through measured breathing and teaches you to pay attention to your body.

I have used meditation and yoga sporadically as needed or as opportunity presented itself in my life. For the past 20 years or so I have been involved in one or another weekly gatherings with a teacher, though not always every week or even every year.

My most recent weekly get together was in the home of a wonderful amazing woman who would lead a small group of friends in yoga and meditation. Alas, she moved to New Orleans to be near her daughter and her family.

It's been over two years now since I have done any yoga on a regular basis and I can feel the difference. Out here though my options are limited so I best find a way to set aside a little time one day a week at home if I want to continue being able to get up off the floor.

Not that I'm on the floor a lot unless I'm doing yoga.




19 comments:

Friko said...

I did Yoga for years, regularly, and then, suddenly, I stopped. Now my knees have seized up and I can’t even sit on my haunches anymore.

Time to get the mat out again, methinks.

Hilary said...

I've never felt more uncoordinated than when trying yoga. I just don't seem to be able to do it which is too bad because I keep hearing how beneficial it is. I'm glad it works for you. I suppose following along with a video would help if there are no places to join in your area.

Rubye Jack said...

I never could get into yoga. I'd do it 3 or 4 times and then quit... However, I'm starting Tai Chi after the holidays and will see how that goes. Meditation comes easy to me -- at times, mostly when I really need it.
I was at the same march if it was the one in '67.

Dianne said...

I practiced TM
never was any good at yoga
I've had some experience with Tai Chi

TexWisGirl said...

i have never tried it but have always wanted to. i can relate to the 'limited' choices of country living, however. even a photography class means driving to dallas.

Cheryl Cato said...

It's been a few years since I went to a yoga class. Maybe that is something I need to do again. It's difficult for me to make myself do stretching exercises several times a week, but I need to try harder.

Kerry said...

Gosh you started early; good for you. I love yoga, but a very low-key variety. None of this hot yoga for me.

rosaria williams said...

I hear lots of good things about yoga. I never tried it, and at my age, I worry about trying to submit to new poses and new movements. Glad you benefited from yoga, and I hope you find a new teacher you like.

Steve Reed said...

Interesting! Although I was a practicing Buddhist for several years -- still am, although my meditation has slipped -- I never did much yoga. I took a yoga class through work once, but I didn't much care for it because it was in the middle of the day and then you're all sweaty and have to go back to work! Yours sounds like a much more spiritually-focused yoga than what we commonly see now, which is more associated with fitness.

Linda Sue said...

Oh Man, I remember Ananda Marga- Several of my friends here had their "Marga" names and they were just so NICE!!! I only did yoga for one session and really loved the way it made me feel, so why did I not continue? Thanks for this post, maybe I will go back, though the classes here are pricey and I don't have ANY self discipline- NONE!But you have inspired me- I love your stories- I really should have known you back in the back then days!

glnroz said...

,,,intresting concept(and story),,,not many yoga rolemodels were around the small community in which I grew up,,,but I do like to go to the woods(camping or just sitting),,,to me, that is my subsitute, I suppose...

The Bug said...

I should at the very least do some stretching exercises every day. At the very least! But trying to incorporate some yoga would be really good too. My rector's husband is a certified yoga instructor & gave me a book to read (he's big into the philosophy behind yoga). Maybe I'll actually read it!

She Writes said...

I LOVE yoga so much! It makes me stronger really fast and it relaxes me greatly. I wish I had time. It's funny how we find stuff that sticks off and on through the years.

Mr. Charleston said...

I was once invited into the presence of a Guru and the energy emanating from that man overwhelmed the room. I have never again felt such peace and love.

Cinner said...

Hi Ellen, you know I never thought of yoga as massaging your organs, I thought that was a great statement. I am trying very hard to do exercising to keep me moving.I do Tai Chi but have never done yoga. Glad to visit you today, hope you are doing well.

Bossy Betty said...

I have tried yoga in the past and need to try it again. I got just a taste of what it can do! Thanks for coming by to visit and for your wonderful comments too!

Reya Mellicker said...

The reason I dislike yoga is that you have to be on the floor to practice. I don't like picnics for the same reason. Even as a hippie I didn't sleep on a futon on the floor.

How is your foot btw? Healed I hope.

Frank Baron said...

Like many, I flirted with yoga when it became faddish in the 70s. (I was limber back then.) But like most exercise programs I've tried over the years, soon found it boring. I preferred my exercise to be in the area of sport - playing ball or road hockey or creek fishing.

Now I'm old and too darn sedentary for my own good.

Perhaps a good time to reconsider yoga....

little hat said...

Interesting read including the comments. Seems like people really want to be active but many start then fall by the wayside. Lack of self discipline? Too comfortable? Not afraid enough of old age and losing it. That's mine - fear. I don't do yoga. I did do TM and it was great for me though I eshew gurus in all forms (I still use it in a modified form to help me relax - at the dentist my mantra gets a good workout. We've all got our own ways of connecting with our bodies it seems. Frank's is sport. Mine, these days, is swimming and stretching - its very meditative.