Don’t you? This is a strange confession, I know…
On Monday I took class with one of my favorite teachers of, Margi Young. The class was a reunion, everyone there was from the old days at Om. Every single person in the room had taken my class and I had practiced next to all of them for years. I felt deeply safe in her hands and surrounded by such warmth and was able to drop in, for what felt like the first time in a long, long time.
Margi’s teaching is clean and clear. There is no smoke and mirrors, and there are no frills; there wasn’t even music! And yet, nothing about it feels dated. It feels immediate and grounded. Present. Simple. In some ways. There’s no high drama from one pose to the next, no off the cuff fancy sequencing. And please understand that I say this from my very own deep love of fancy sequencing. It is pure and simple unadulterated yoga. I thought to myself, “Man, I need to simplify my act.” For those of you who know me, you know that is not easy for me.
Fit into her sequencing my practice felt aggressive, which surprised me. It was the first time I did not practice Surya A with inversions in I don’t know how many years. Literally, years. I can’t tell you how good it felt. I felt very little pressure to be good so I left feeling like I truly gifted myself a practice.
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Miles and I’m a perfectionist and a yogaholic. It’s true! I’ve become addicted to this practice in a way that perhaps is not so fun or beneficial and is requiring some review. My need to be good gets in the way of the joy!!!! This practice is joyful!!!! I had forgotten.
I know it may seem obvious, but it made me realize, “I do yoga to live, I don’t live to do yoga.” Not an easy thing to remember when you earn your living teaching it. Some of you yogaholics may relate.
These days, as yogis push their bodies to their absolute edge and limits, doing every variation of every pose imaginable (and I am definitely including myself in this); where instalebrities are made from their strength and flashiness on Instagram- I too miss when yoga was just weird and unassuming.
If I’m completely honest, I miss the days when my yoga was weird and unassuming. I practiced on one of those janky giam mats for the first six years I was a yogi. It was light blue and I couldn’t justify getting rid of it because five years into it it still looked like new. I had three pairs of short black biking shorts that I rotated. That’s right, those of you from Om remember this. I had six hanes ribbed tank tops and boom, I was a yogi. And mostly, I practiced because I loved it. Whenever I felt like it. But alas, it is a discipline and to go deeper you have to bite the bullet and show up day in and day out. But it changes you sometimes. The deeper you go the more vigilant you have to be because the mind is a sneaky thing. I tell my students all the time. What you practice, you get good at. Well, I think it may be time for me to pear it down and go back to the land of humility and simplicity for a bit.
I love physical prowess as much as the next person. Seeing what I am capable of and challenging myself. And I love to practice hard. But I miss when my practice felt light, easeful and fun. And I miss when seated poses were treated with the same respect as handstands. I even miss having the worst practice in the room because I was so out of range from everyone else that all I could do was look and admire them. I could not even imagine coveting them because I was so far from flexible and far from graceful.
Teaching and practicing are both works in progress. I continue to learn and learn. I’m not sure where all these thoughts will settle in the shuffle of life, but I would love to rekindle my love affair with the old school lack of presumption. I would love to offer you some simplicity and offer it to myself. Let’s bring the joy back! In honor of spring! In honor of our own discipline. And because our mothers would want that for us.
Speaking of mothers, happy mother’s day! Enjoy the beautiful weather, yogis!