Several days ago, I celebrated the beginning of my 35th year. Rising before the sun, as has become my custom and great pleasure, I rolled out my yoga mat on the balcony for a gentle practice to tend to the sweet soreness from the previous evening's 108 sun salutations. In the stillness and solitude of the dawn, moving with the rhythm of my breath, I sensed that this year marks the start of a new chapter. A few hours later, while receiving a deeply restorative body work session from a soul friend, she confirmed my intuition that I am, indeed, starting afresh.
What a gift! To have lived what may be 1/3 of this lifetime and yet be starting anew. Of course, the wise part of me also knows that this sense of freshness and possibility and presence is available at any moment.
It is what the Zen Buddhists call "Beginner's Mind" and what Patanjali points to with the first lines of the Yoga Sutras:atha-yoga-anusasanam, which Ravi Ravindra translates as "Here, now, is the teaching of yoga." The first word of any Sanskrit text is key--here, now, in this moment--is the time practice yoga. Ravindra continues to explain that:
"Yoga does not require sitting on a cushion in meditation and it is not limited to a specified hour or a particular posture. Each moment is the right moment and the present moment is the best one. Each place is the right place--the place where I now am can be a sacred space."
To recognize and honor the sacred in each moment, this is the practice of yoga. Throughout the past weekend, I have been reminded repeatedly of this simple-to-understand yet profoundly difficult-to-practice principle: Be Here Now.
Like so many insights that point us towards the sacred, this mantra has been reduced to a bumper sticker catch-phrase which dilutes the potency of its poignancy. Something like the practice of yoga which, as my dear friend Prue Klausener observed (and 5 minutes on social media will confirm) seems to be devolving from an ancient spiritual practice into a sensation of selfies posed with the "yogi" in various states of undress in acrobatic postures, preferably with an exotic backdrop.
Of course, this trend is only representative of a fraction of the global yoga community, but it's pervasive and provocative. As recent joiner of Instagram (yes, please do check out my posts at mytreeyoga), I've been exploring how to use this platform to contribute meaningfully to the larger yoga community. So far, it offers another avenue for inspiration and connectivity, as well as abundant opportunities to slack off! Hopefully, with the intention of creating sacred space and sharing that which is highest and best in myself with the same in others, I can manage to offer beauty. What better gift is there?