The other day in yoga class, my teacher posed the question, “What is yoga to you?” She wasn’t looking for any raised hands. The question was more of an offering, something to meditate upon throughout our practice.
As I began bending and twisting, I thought that yoga, to me, was simply moving my body. Keeping it limber and flexible – stretching in response to tennis and skiing and shoveling snow.
As I kept moving, more bends and twists, my breaths grew deeper and fuller, and I could feel myself letting go. Letting go of everything I’d carried in with me to class.
And then, as I continued to bend and twist and breathe even more deeply, I felt me return to me. I felt myself remember who I was. I felt the real me, deep inside of myself, awaken and smile up at me.
I was reminded of the first time I’d experienced that sensation. It was several years ago during a yoga class at Kripalu I was about half way through class when suddenly it was like a mirror on my inside was reflecting out. I remember wanting to reach out and touch my own imaginary light reflection. I remember whispering, “Hi, there. I remember you.”
Because most of the time I forget. I forget the deep me hidden away inside. I’m just a busy body doing whatever it is I do. Too busy to stop and say hello to that inner me.
So by the end of class I had found my answer. To me yoga is simply… returning to me.
I didn’t raise my hand or share my answer with anyone else. Instead, I rolled up my mat, took my own hand in the other and walked the whole me out of class, fully ready to begin my day.
Love After Love by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.