Hands and Feet
I have started my days with an asana practice for nearly twenty years now. At first, it was an attempt to practice a philosophy and spiritual teaching that I held in great regard. I wanted to put cultivate a practical experience of the spiritual and philosophical teachings of yoga I had read about in texts like the Yoga Sutras. The asana practiced remained this way for many years and slowly, ever so slowly, it helped me move from being a high school drop out, to a PhD student. Then, for many years, my asana practice was a refuge, a sanctuary in the midst of an abusive relationship. Those few hours spent in practice provided a lot of guidance and a bit of solace through long days dealing with another’s threats of violence and suicide. It is still difficult to articulate how, but the asana practice helped give me strength to endure great torment in the hopes of being present for my son. Now, free from that abuse for the past few years, the practice of asana has served as a foundation for other endeavors. Rather than a place to run to, it is a spring board from which to jump. Rather than an escape or hideaway, the practice of asana serves to open doors, to light pathways. I have never cared about contorting my body as such. I was and am much more interested in what the discipline does for daily living—helping me be a better father to my son, helping me speak out against abusive relationships where ever they are found, helping me be a better partner, person, and member of the world community. Exactly how this practice helps me is hard to explain and I’m sure as time moves inexorably onward it will change. I do not want to continue the asana practice as it is was or is now. I want it to change. It must change. I will age, learn, perhaps (dare I dream) even graduate from this “course in asana” on to other, more suitable and perhaps subtle disciplines.