Monday, September 6, 2010
I am convinced that yoga makes you a better person. It's true. It makes you forgive your body for its limitations, and in turn, makes you more forgiving in general. Take my hamstrings for example. They are so tight that I can't touch my toes. Which would normally make me embarrassed, but in yoga, you hold poses for so long that eventually I have to give up my silent vendetta against the tightness and just say, "it's ok, I forgive you hamstrings." And then I can stretch a little deeper.
Yoga also makes you more vulnerable, which is good for all of us, but especially those of us who walk around feeling mostly competent, most of the time. A while back I took a naked yoga class, and afterward a guy in the class revealed that that that, this particular session, was his very first yoga class EVER. Can you imagine?
That is some serious vulnerability.
Anyway, I have tried lots of yoga in my day, and even taught it at one point. Don't be too impressed, because like the hamstrings, I am still a stiff grandma in certain poses. But here in town, out of bikram yoga, all-women's yoga, naked yoga (I really need to tell that story sometime), hatha yoga, 24 Hour Fitness yoga, hot yoga, outdoor yoga, and many other yogas I've probably forgotten, there is one studio that is consistently amazing, and you get to try it for free today.
It is Dharma Yoga, and it is on Guadalupe. It is one of the few places in town (besides Yoga Yoga) that offers teacher training, and it is very Buddhist in its approach. You know how I'm cuckoo for Buddhism these days.
Yesterday, during vinyasa, our teacher handed out a piece of paper with these words on it:
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
What does that phrase mean to you?
When I read it, I immediately thought: "Oh, that's because the beginner gets so excitable about all these possibilities which are probably WRONG, while the expert can hone in on the CORRECT possibilities."
Very un-Buddhist of me.
As it turns out, that's not what the phrase means. Our instructor explained that the beginner's mind is open, ready to try new things without preconceived notions of how it all "should" go. The expert's mind, on the other hand, is much more narrow, because they approach everything in life assuming there's a right way and a wrong way to carry out operations.
Guess who walked into class yesterday with expert's mind!
Anyway, every single class I have been to at Dharma Yoga teaches me these little pearls of wisdom, because the founder, Keith Kachtick, and all of the instructors there teach class on a Buddhist foundation. That doesn't mean you have to BE Buddhist or know anything about Buddhism - it pretty much stays at the level of the quote above.
Also, everyone plays excellent music at Dharma Yoga, which is a HUGE deal. I can be wrecking house on the yoga mat, having the best time, and then the instructor pops in grocery store smooth jazz and it's all over. "No - NO," I think, and then instead of holding half moon pose or forgiving my hamstrings, my mind gets all judge-y and pissed. Which I'm pretty sure are emotions opposite of yoga.
This kind of thing never happens at Dharma Yoga. It's a CD collection you can trust.
Austin Free Day of Yoga is happening today at tons of times and locations around town, and Dharma Yoga is participating. I really recommend checking it out. Keith said yesterday that Free Day is typically kind of raucous and crazy, since there are so many new people, but even so I think you will be enchanted. It's right on the Drag, so you get this feeling of being ensconced in a special, sacred cocoon, while the city rages outside.
Photo credits here and here.