Friday yoga blogging: where the rubber meets the road

Several of my friends are depressed after the election. I can understand: they worked so hard for an outcome that didn’t come to pass. George W. Bush got elected again despite their best efforts.

Today our yoga class was dedicated to effort and surrender. At the beginning of class we were told to let go of our expectations for the class. This isn’t to say that we can’t dedicate our practice to something or someone, or even have intentions for the practice. It means that we realize that whatever happens during the class (anywhere from feeling great to injury) our yoga practice benefits us. Sometimes those benefits come in disguise.

Today, fortunately, I had a terrific yoga practice. I let go of my expectations (that’s very hard, and I don’t always do that), and I had results I could not dream of expecting. For example, I managed to stay in Pincha Mayurasana without direct assistance from a wall for a while and even hit the Swan Pose[1] on _both_ sides. And that’s really minor. I felt that I was starting to get the idea of mindfulness, at least for a time. I managed even to keep “Ujjayi pranayama(victorious breathing)”: going for much longer than I ever had before. It was almost like a dam broke.

Most other days, I’m struggling to find a time to do yoga, and when I finally do, I feel rushed, or my mind is racing with what to do, or hoping that my daughter stays asleep long enough for me to get a good, “vigorous” practice, or hoping that outside forces don’t interrupt this moment that I’ve fought long and hard for. Those days I usually shoot myself in the foot and don’t have a “satisfying” practice. I know why: because I want a “satisfying” practice, but don’t really know what that means. By letting go and taking whatever the moment has to offer, I can transform even the shortest of yoga practices.

So this is where I come back to politics. Several friends of mine fought hard to get John Kerry elected. When Kerry conceded on Nov. 3, it was like the wind went out of their sails. This was because they were attached to the outcome of John Kerry’s winning the election. However, their efforts were not for naught. Perhaps they inspired someone to ask questions where they might not have otherwise. Perhaps they raised awareness of the travesty in Iraq. Just like the proverbial butterfly in France that might cause a hurricane halfway around the globe, these seeds of ideas might blossom into a force that causes a lot more people to speak up for their principles. So take heart. There’s a lot of effort left to put forth, but the effort put forth is not in vain. It’s time to adjust (“surrender” is the term in yoga, but that seems wildly inappropriate here), gear up, and go at it again.

I know the roads I have started to travel are long, and I’m merely at the beginning. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and maybe I’m on the fifth step. Milestone days like these keep me going.

fn1. I don’t know the Sanskrit term for this. I thought it was Hamsasana, but that’s really a hand balance. The swan is done almost like “Eka Pada Rajakapotasana(One-Legged King Pigeon Pose)”:, but instead of both hands on the foot, the foot is in the cradle of one elbow and the hands are holding each other behind the head.

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