elephants yoga

Questing: wondering about yoga and life (and looking for help to do it).

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Before becoming what it is, Alice goes around was meant to be named An elephant in the city, be written in Italian and talk about yoga – sort of. They say when you truly focus on something, the Universe aligns. So in a couple of weeks time, as soon as I decided I was going for it 100%, my life suddenly made a rather impressive flick-flack and Alice started going around.

But to be fair, without yoga all this would have never happened at all.

The changes it brought and keeps bringing to my life, my mind and my soul are a fundamental prerequisite and something without which writing, traveling, climbing and exploring wouldn’t happen the way they do. Indeed, I would have never started going around, I would have never believed in what I was doing, I would have never trusted life and I would have never allowed myself to pursue my plan and, at the same time, to let it all go in order to truly love it.

So I think it’s only fair if yoga has its own section anyways in this little place on the internet. After all, it is by all means an exploration and an adventure, probably fiercer and more reckless than many others.

Yoga can be scary, and full of unexpected events, it does take a lot of commitment and it most definitely requires to come way out of your comfort zone.

Personally, it took me more than a year to find the courage to stick with yoga. My first time sitting still, trying to focus on my breath, I got so uncomfortable and rather scared. Sometimes I would flee my yoga class as if a monster was chasing me.

Anyhow, I’m not a guru, nor I want to become one. My intentions are not to post some fancy asanas or talk about chakras and how to “open” them. Talking about yoga for me means to try to answer a big, sort of the-chicken-or-the-egg kind of question. To be totally honest, I’m hoping to engage a discussion with my readers (if there are any) and get to know what they think about it. I most definitely need a hand in my “quest”! So, what’s this question?

Well, many gurus and yoga masters, Paramansa Yogananda above all, wonder whether there is room for yoga (not just the physical practice) in the Western culture. Can it belong here?

What I often found myself wondering is actually the opposite: is there room for the Western culture in yoga? Can they coexist? For that matters, can yoga coexist with ‘real’ life in general?

Get me here: I’m not trying to provoke. I just genuinely ask myself this questions given my usual struggle to balance yoga and life. Sometimes, I feel like I would have to quit life if I wanted to fully live according to this “other way”.

tibetan bowls yoga

Yoga is not a discipline, it’s a complete lifestyle. As you may or may not know, it comes with Yama and Niyama, which basically are yoga’s does and don’ts, the ethical concepts one should live by if they want to “do yoga”. But as you also may or may not guess, they’re full of absolutes. And this makes it almost impossible to follow them all the time. You will fail, at some point or another. But then again, yoga is not about success or failure. So how do I “find myself” in all this vicious cycle?

As anti-yoga as it may sounds, sometimes it all ends in a big handful of sense of guilt and inadequacy.

Let’s make it clear, I’m not talking about the physical practice only: to me yoga is not just that. To me, practicing yoga means in the first place to live life away from fear, rage, hate and the judgement they lead to. Whatever I’m doing, whatever I’m saying, whatever I’m thinking, whomever I’m relating to, I try to keep them out – and of course fail most of the time. I try to live away from measurements, assessments, levels of worthiness and classifications. I do my best to be the change I want to see. I avoid perfectionism as a plague.

Nevertheless, as much as many may argue that doing your best to spread love and light is already more than enough (and that you shouldn’t even think about “enough” in the first place), sometimes I still feel as if there were no room for real life when it comes to yoga.

Exactly because yoga taught me that striving for absolutes, perfection and obsession is not a good way to find balance, living life completely according to yama and niyama is no different than that striving exactly.

So how do we manage to make life and yoga coexist? Where yoga means union between mind and soul, is there union between yogaing and living? Do we have to choose, or can we experience both together?

Now, a “stay tuned” would probably do, but I actually hate it. So I just hope someone will start giving me their thoughts and answers about it. In the meantime, I’ll keep “questing”, absolutely hunted by the doubt that probably this exact quest is the answer I’m looking for.

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