What is “real” yoga anyway? And what do “real” people look and act like? And where does “real” life start?
“Real” yoga is all about listening. Sure, it’s about listening to your teachers and your bestie and your kids and your boss, but all those get better as you learn how to listen to you. And not that “nya nya nya” voice that has a stock list of 100 phrases playing your head, because that is not you. That is habit, that is programming, that is trauma, dear.
You may not sound like anything at any given day and time. The you you learn to listen to is the you of your breath: what does your breath tell you when you listen for more than an inhale? It is your body: step onto your mat and find out what it has to tell you. The lessons are deeper than words.
For my money (and time and soul), “real” yoga is not a matter of lineage, tradition, trips to India or ability to do the latest iteration of a one armed, pretzel footed peacock (though those are fun, too). “Real” yoga has to do with what you find, learn, listen and respond to on the mat, when it’s just you. No leading voice, just your experience and intuition. “Real” yoga is your home practice. Yes, in conjunction with all kinds of outer teachers, but the one ingredient no yogi can miss is home practice. It’s what you do on your own, when no one is looking, in private and without facebook, instagram or twitter that is your yoga. “Real” yoga is the home practice of yoga.
Think about it this way: the rail thin, leather-skinned dude who lives in a cave and sits in lotus pose 10 hours a day, the 1970s avatar of what yoga looks like… how did he find his yoga? Sure, he probably had a teacher somewhere, but that teacher told him, “Go away, put it into practice. Talk to me in ten years.” And so he went, he practiced. Maybe he found the same teacher again, maybe another. But the teacher didn’t say, “Come to my class for an hour every day, or maybe just twice a week.”
And real people? They look like you, of course. You’re as real as it gets. Someone should really listen to you. That’s a powerful thing to do. Attention. Your attention. It’s the most powerful thing there is. Don’t lavish it all over everyone else and forget to include you.
And real life? It looks like yours: with bills and friends and family and cars that break down and hearts that soar and hurt and trust and learn and bodies that live and run and hurt and heal. Bodies, hearts and minds that need yoga when they need yoga – maybe in the middle of a meeting (breathing is best here) or first thing in the morning, before you’d realistically leave the house. How long they need yoga: 15 minutes a day has a profound effect. How they need yoga: some days restorative yoga trumps everything.
Real yoga supports people like us, you and me, listening in the midst of a life that isn’t as simple as living in a cave and may not be near a yoga studio. Heck, yoga studios aren’t always the best places to listen. But where you are – right now? That’s a good place to listen – to you. So roll out a mat, stand at the top and find your Mountain. Then do the next thing. Keep it going and you’ll learn a lot. About you.
For solid support, information and short practices to get you started (you get to riff on them), visit the other Badlands Yoga blog. And leave a comment here or there to tell us about your practice and how you own it.
- “Real Yoga” Revealed. (elephantjournal.com)
- The Everyday Yogi: One Man’s Journey to Find Himself Through Yoga (newamericamedia.org)
- What Does Yoga Mean For You? (theblissfulblog.com)
- Yoga Realness & Truth. And Love. (formula457.com)