Saturday, June 6, 2009


While the kids were playing in their rooms this early afternoon, Noel watched a documentary to review called (unfortunately) Enlighten Up! The director has been practicing yoga for several years, and decided she wanted to introduce a novice to the exercise, following his progress to see whether he experienced any transformations.

Although infuriating in some ways, the documentary captures the novice's fascinating conversations with established masters from many yogic schools in the United States and in India. They give him conflicting answers to his questions: Is yoga a physical or spiritual exercise? What is it for? How do you do it correctly?

The lifelong practice of yoga is frequently emphasized. Doing the same things over and over and over, day after day, year after year, not knowing when there will be an outcome or what the outcome will be -- it runs counter to our goal-oriented thinking, doesn't it?

Watching, I suddenly realized that I've made a decision to do something everyday, too -- not because I know what will happen if I do, but just because I sense that the discipline will teach me something about myself. I write in this blog every day. I don't write the same things; somedays I just copy what someone else has written. Most of what I write is inconsequential, even repetitive.

But maybe people doing what look outwardly to be the same yoga poses over and over again aren't, in fact, repeating themselves. Maybe the pose is truly a different experience depending on where it's done and who's doing it and what has happened to them a moment ago, a day ago, a year ago. So I wouldn't have to write the same blog entry over and over in order to approximate the same kind of daily practice.

You may do something by choice every day, too -- pray, run, read, cook. Do you know what you want to get out of it? Do you just do it because doing something by choice every day seems inherently a good exercise? Are you sometimes surprised by what happens -- or what doesn't happen?

1 comment:

Jenn said...

I've been practicing yoga more and more (particularly ashtanga), and I can tell you that it's different every time you come to it. There's a comfort in knowing that the same sequence of poses awaits you--you know what will come--but then you never know how you will be within each pose. Will it be easy today? Will it be a struggle? Can one focus, or will distractions pop up?

I like how you connect this idea of practice with repetitions that are somehow more than just endlessly repeating one's actions, but with discipline and learning and seeing what the action will bring or not bring.