Friday, August 10, 2007

Yoga in the Garden - Ready 1,2,3

I do some Yoga on my own at home and at our health club. I took a few classes many years ago but most of what I do I learned from a book. Mars however regularly attends workshops at a local studio and really enjoys it. So I was thinking that maybe I should get back into the yogatorium for some formal training. Then I took a look at what I regularly do in my gardens and decided that I didn't really need to.

From my experience I know that most yoga sessions consist of three basic segments: (1) the intention, (2) the poses and (3) Savasna.

In my own homegrown version, I always skip the first part. That's because in the classes that I've taken I have never been able to figure out what I'm supposed to think or say. I mean it sounds simple enough. All of the students are seated in a circle with our legs crossed in that incomprehensibly uncomfortable position that somehow is supposed to free your mind from your body if only you could stop thinking about the intense burning sensation that is emanating from the tenth vertebra and radiating through both hips, down the legs, and shooting out of the tops of your toenails.

The teacher, whose normal stance makes the most ramrod military academy cadet look like Quasimodo and who actually can, from a standing position, get into and out of this seated posture unassisted, says sweetly "And what would you like to get out of today's practice?" Followed by the dreaded phrase "I will share my intentions first."

Some of the students seize this moment like an eager Miss America contestant being asked which of the world's problems she is going to solve while wearing the crown - "I would like to eradicate poverty and hunger by being a role model of a well-paid and properly nourished attractive young women". And they make sincere eye contact with even those of us who are trying to crawl under our yoga mats in hopes of invisibility while we simultaneously try to force some thought into our heads other than "Uh, uh, Idaknow. Feel good maybe."

When I'm gardening however I have no problems at all with intentions. In fact I have hundreds of them - "remove all of the weeds, never have the bushes look like they need a trimming, give the plants just the right amount of water...". The path to my garden is paved with them. And the best part is the next day most of them are still around to use again.

Part (2) the postures.

This for me is the heart and soul of the yoga experience. Twisting and turning my body into impossible positions and holding these poses for infinitely long periods of time while attempting to control my breathing and pinpointing all of my attention on the task at hand is my kind of exercise. And I get it in my own gardens whenever I gyrate myself into the midst of the shrubbery so focused on the weeds and other overbearing plants that need removal I am unaware of the movements I have performed and muscles I have used until hours later when I emerge sweaty and muddy from my transcendental state unable to achieve anything other than the most rudimentary pre-bipedal stature.

Finally there is Savasna "an opportunity to rest and cool down after the practice and to allow the tension, tightness, and toxins dislodged by the practice to be carried be motionless and without thought." Savasna is normally "performed" in the dark on your back with soft music playing in something that is called the "corpse position." It is as you can imagine a highly desired state of "yo".

Well, after an afternoon of yard work, just give me a lawn chair, a shady spot and a cool breeze and I am there like white on rice. It is undoubtedly the gardening (and yoga) thing that I do best. And that zzz'ing sound you hear is just all of my charkas being realigned - which of course is what I intended to get out of this day's practice anyway. Along of course with an end to famine, pestilence and death.

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