Friday, July 15, 2011

Transforming and transforming...

If there is a list of the top ten words most overused by the yoga community, "transformation" would have to be on it. The transformational power of yoga is touted repeatedly by publications and yoga teachers as a reason to unroll your mat and get yourself into Downward-facing Dog. There is an endless stream of testimonials by those whose lives changed as a result of their yoga practices. There are records of physical, mental and spiritual transformations.

Which makes what I have to say redundant. Sort of.

I can't deny that yoga has changed my life. It was a big change, too. I won't bore you with the details, because they're all here in older blog posts, but let me highlight the quitting my job, moving to the mountains and opening a yoga studio thing. That's the sort of stuff that happens when yoga gets under your skin.

But there's a catch. The transformational power of yoga does not come with brakes. Once it gets rolling, it doesn't stop. Unlike most vehicles, obstacles like bridge abutments and large trees may slow it down, but as long as you keep breathing that power will work it's way through whatever gets in the way. Which means you might be in for a very long ride.

It's nice to roll down the road of change with the wind in your hair, but eventually the big question has to come up. "What am I transforming into?"

My asana practice makes me feel strong, so I seek opportunities to challenge my body (with compassion and awareness, of course), especially in ways that get me outdoors experiencing nature at the same time -because my meditation practice makes me feel more interconnected with the natural world - which makes me look for ways to advocate for the environment. Since I can't push environmental awareness without setting an example, I seek ways to make my home and the yoga studio greener.

While I'm outside pushing my body, experiencing nature, practicing asana and trying to be green, I meet other people who introduce me to new activities and many of them end up on my list of things to try. To be honest, I can't even get through an Athleta catalog without seeing something I'd love to be doing. So I start thinking of ways to try them.

Then there's the Bhakti yoga, the devotional singing and chanting which made it okay for my slightly tone-deaf voice to sing out. Which restored a love of music that I'd abandoned to those with more talent. With the music came the desire to dance, especially in a skirt that jingles when I move.

"That's great!" you may be thinking. "She is trying all kinds of new things." If I was applying to college (again) my application would be in the "well-rounded" pile.

The truth is, change is starting to feel less like I'm following a path with a few twists and turns and more like I'm caught in a transformational whirlwind. It's as if I'm in a constant state of flux, never settling down to just "being" anything.

The ultimate goal of yoga is to settle the mind into silence. How can my mind be silent if it's constantly trying to figure out how to make a hula hoop, where I can set up a slackline, when I'm going to have time to run, practice belly dancing and learn to play the bongos, and remember all the stuff I've studied for the personal trainer exam?

Perhaps my life's journey wasn't meant to meander on a foot path, but rather rip through this existence like a tornado, sucking up everything I encounter. Perhaps I am paying for lifetimes of stagnation, needing to do everything I'd missed during previous incarnations so I can finally get to the really deep stuff. Perhaps this life's lesson is supposed to be non-attachment to the cravings for new adventures and I'm failing miserably.

Maybe one day I'll find stillness in the center of the storm and discover what it is that I have become. Right after I try ice climbing.
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