I DO Practice Yoga!


For decades I chastised myself that I did not practice yoga.  Everyone I knew, everyone whose life was full of Zen, everyone who lived the way I wanted to live (on the beach, in California) practiced yoga.  I spent the vast majority of my adult life in yoga-envy.

It was not that I did not try to do practice yoga; I did.  I went to classes, purchased DVDs and (in the old days) video-tapes.  I read articles, blogs and books about yoga.  I listened to lectures and even watched my friends perform their (perfected) practice – often on the beach, in California.  Alas, my yoga-envy only deepened.

Nothing about yoga felt right, familiar, do-able.  I felt like the life of enlightenment wanted nothing to do with me. I felt left out.

THEN, I attended a class – a graduate course at the Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota. It was CSpH 5101,  Introduction to Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices (3 credits).  It took place at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury, MN over the course of a week. Yoga was probably only a two-hour window of learning that week but that two-hour lecture and demonstration changed my whole belief system about yoga.

In that lecture I learned what no yoga teacher had ever taught me about yoga – IT IS MORE THAN THE POSES! The poses are only one “path” or “branch” of yoga – there are eight! The poses (all of them) are collectively called Asana.  AND, I learned that I ACTUALLY PRACTICE ALL THE OTHER SEVEN PATHS – and have for many years! YIKES – I practice yoga!

Here are the eight paths of yoga. . .

  1. Yama (self-restraint)
  2. Niyama (right observance or self-discipline) 
  3. Asana (right alignment: how to sit, stand be in the body with full attention)
  4. Pranayama (regulation of breath)
  5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses, quieting the senses and their cravings)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (freeing one’s attention)

In studying guided imagery (decades ago!) I practiced regulation of breath, learned effective meditation practices, engaged in full concentration, presence that frees one’s attention to receive new information and insight. As a nurse I’d learned self-discipline,  a calming of my cravings and self-restraint.  I had solid practices in 7 out of the 8 paths of yoga – all I lacked was the physical practice of the poses – Asana. 

I had sold myself short for years! I now know that I DO PRACTIC YOGA! And now, thanks to a wonderful yoga center, right in my neighborhood, where I’m learning to be “in my body” I am also studying the art of Asana (the poses) – in a modest, gentle way, and with beginner’s mind.

What is it you tell yourself you cannot do; you will never accomplish?

You may surprise yourself to learn that what you think of as THE WHOLE is really only A PART of the whole – perhaps your own life reflects the thing you long for even if by some other name!

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