by Irene SanPietro
It’s not all about feeling good. Nepal is happening, Baltimore is happening. I find myself repeating Gayatri Mantra as I walk. The last two lines are harder than the first. I think, this is hard. Some people have it very hard. I am not sitting with myself, bending and stretching so that I can get a tent revival feeling of with-God-ness. And I am no longer chasing the high that first brought me to yoga. I am doing this because clearing the baggage away will help me find the way in which I was meant to be of service. It matters much less whether I teach a class in the ordinary sense of the term. This is not just asana for me. Without breath, without intention, without gratitude and generosity it’s just gymnastics. Asana is necessary but not sufficient. It develops intuition, and, at it’s best, is a meditation and an offering, something one can get lost in. It has been a way of learning about myself from the outside in, of getting around the blocks left in me by abuse towards a core, towards something to build on. Practice has helped me see my strengths, but strength without discipline is raw. It can turn on itself. I am doing teacher training to channel it, and I am inscribing no greater purpose on it than that it does whatever work it was meant to do in me. So I have begun to get up for sadhana every morning at 5:30, or 6, or 6:30. Whatever it takes, with progressively less judgment. As Will says, I’m letting the practice do the work; the rest follows. I hope it does.
I’ve always thought it would take time for me to grow into myself, that I would make better sense when I’m older. For me, yoga has become a way of thinking and, as importantly, a way of stopping thought. This does not mean blocking out the news to stay positive or pushing my cat off my mat because it it ‘sacred space’, but really looking—closer, slower. Maybe feeling elation, maybe horror, and recognizing myself in both, like faces in a dream. Whether I have one life or many, I take to heart that a human birth is a high birth, and not something to be wasted. For me, practice is a way into whatever that is.