The public facing view of yoga includes gorgeous photos of stunning bodies, research on yoga’s effects on blood pressure, stress reduction, and brain function. Teachers and practitioners know that the good stuff is real! Yogis are often strong and flexible, and can handle stresses with equanimity and resilience. For these reasons and more, we stick with our practice.
But what about the yoga fine print? The stuff they don’t tell you when you’re reading about all the benefits? The reality is this:
- Easy is not a word associated with a yoga practice. Discomfort or awkward might be the word. Everything about the practice of yoga is actually designed to be challenging! A short list might look like this: endeavoring to stay still in a restorative pose, get an honest look at engrained stories around your family, or holding a handstand for sixty seconds. Not a quick fix, yoga is about showing up every day and working.
- Yoga is guaranteed to create structure in our life and body and show us, “YOU ARE HERE.” It forces us to get clear, something most of us have spent our lives avoiding. Knowing our body is ours to care for (or not) opens the door to taking responsibility for all the aspect of our lives. Facing the difficulty of full responsibility we see the futility of blaming anyone or anything for the circumstances of our life. Did I mention discomfort?
- Namaste (saluting the light within others) may become our guiding light. Then, up pop situations where we are challenged to apply it. For example, a woman at a party informs me that she intends to “steal your husband” and I discover that my reaction is anything but loving. I see the same light inside of me and inside of her. The light may be loving and forgiving but at times it is disrespectful and crazy. Ultimately, yoga teaches us we really are the same as not only every person around us but as all things.
In our culture, we’re not typically comfortable with being a beginner and as yoga students we are always beginners. No matter how advanced a practitioner may become, yoga will push us to our edge where we encounter ourselves again and again and again.
This pulse of discomfort is a yoga built-in; I call it the play. It is the play of being stronger but feeling weaker, being more engaged but feeling bored, knowing we are whole but feeling that we still have so many parts to “fix.” It is the play of what goes on outside in the world and with our relationships and the play of what goes on in our bodies and minds. More than anything else, it is the power of awareness that comes to us from watching the pulse and showing up to honor it in ourselves.
Becca Roodhuyzen is the owner of the Playoga studio. The “Play” in Playoga captures Becca’s philosophy that yoga can be fun and that there is a dance between yoga and everyday life. Becca has been practicing and studying yoga since 2001. She’s experimented with many styles of yoga and has incorporated 13 years of experience into a challenging and dynamic practice. She’s completed workshops or trainings in Interdisciplinary, Self-Awakening, Yin, Power, and Anusara® Yoga. Her primary teachers are Jeanie Manchester, Desiree Rumbaugh and Christina Sell. We’re excited to feature Becca at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass.