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Just Go

November 11, 2010

In all the coverage of the marathon this past week, my favorite was this post on NYTimes Well blog by noted author Christopher McDougall.  It’s good. You should go read it. But here’s the line that jumped out at me:

“If you want to run 26.2 miles, the door’s right there. Go. Why do you need corporate hoopla and 45,000 strangers along for the ride?”

Being a yogini, and not a runner, it got me thinking about the way we do yoga. The truth is, if you want to do yoga, grab some floor and go for it!  You don’t need special equipment, patented classes, or moisture-wicking underwear.  Almost everything you can do with your body is some form of asana, so start moving and see what happens.

But ultimately humans are a social animal.  McDougall goes on to point out that the desire to run in packs has been hard-wired into our brains. The earliest humans were able to hunt large game (and thus survive) because they could run in groups and share the burden of the chase. Even with all that separates us in the modern world, working cooperatively as part of a larger whole really does deepen and enrich our experience.

And that’s why we take yoga classes.  Because we want to be with others.  Because we trust our teachers to lead us safely and carefully to the edge of our abilities.  Because a room full of people anchored in their bodies and reaching out to the world is truly unbelievable.

There are so many different versions of yoga, all emphasizing different aspects of the practice.  I’m a vinyasa teacher because that style works best for my body, but that may not be true for you.  Get out there. Try all kinds of yoga. Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, Anusara, Forrest, Vinyasa. Listen to your body and practice in a way that makes sense for you, that feels good to you.  Find your pack.

And then every now and then set that aside and just practice on your own. Never forget that you can just go, and find your own way. There is great freedom in that knowledge.

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