Taking yoga off the mat…
One of the manytranslations of the word yoga is yoke, union or to join. So it stands to reason, that yoga isnot practiced for yoga sake. Yeswe all want to bend ourselves into pretzels but yoga is not intended to isolateor bind us to the constraints of our bodies or minds. The impact of practicing yoga reaches far beyond the fourcorners of our mats and pretty poses.
This mayresonate with some of us as the union of the mind, body and spirit. I’ve noticed that in my life, yoga isthe union between between all the seemingly separate roads I want totravel. In other words, yogainvites us to take the teachings and sensations we cultivate on the mat out thedoor into our cars, work places and homes.
As a new studentI remember thinking, well that’s nice, but how?
I mentioned theseemingly different roads I’m traveling right now. To highlight a few, I’m a yoga practitioner, a yoga teacher,an actress, a girlfriend, a daughter etc. Often I feel torn between these roads. As if any commitment to one road makes the others suffer. AsI come back to the mat over and over again, not to be alone, but to unitemyself with “my selves”, something is becoming more clear every day.
Each of theseroads are the same.
Let’s look at yogaand acting for a moment. When Ipractice yoga, I always begin by finding my feet rooted firmly on thefloor. Before I step on stage Ialways begin by finding my feet rooted firmly on the floor. Grounding down evokes a sense ofsecurity and calm. When I teachyoga, I ask (myself) for balance in my throat chakra to cultivate clearcommunication and truthfulness. When I open my mouth to say a line or sing, I do the same. When I begin to flounder in a pose,losing balance or strength, I connect to my breath, hug my muscles to themidline of my body and reestablish my gaze. When I forget a line onstage, or the wrong music plays or aset piece is in the wrong place, I breathe, hug into myself, my truth, andrefocus. In yoga we are constantlyreminding ourselves to be present with what is happening right here right now. On stage, although you’ve said those words and moved yourhead in that way hundreds of times, you constantly remind yourself to be in thepresent moment. The work is totreat each downward facing dog and each lyric as if you’ve never experienced itbefore, as if it organically poured from you as a perfect expression of thatmoment.
To me, as ayogini, I endeavor to vibrate moment to moment with presence andauthenticity. No surprise that Ithink this is a supreme definition for a brilliant actor.
So, perhaps thenext time your yoga teacher ends class with, “take this with you into therest of your day, ” You willknow that “this” is simply a more connected (yoked) “you.” The “you” who takes a deepbelly breath in rush-hour traffic instead of cursing people, the”you” who acts in relation to the present moment instead of reactingto habitual thoughts. The personwho you already are. The practiceof yoga can reunite us with our greater selves, if we let it.