Mar 26, 2013 03:20PM
● By Susan Kiskis
In Buddhism, monks are said to own two worldly possessions; a robe and a bell, and they can meditate anywhere. In yoga, practitioners own their bones and muscles. Mats, special socks and cool pants are optional.
When a monk goes to meditate, he knows he can sit among the dried grass. He can be in a crammed subway with not even a pole to hold onto for balance and yet find stillness through the breathing.
We, like monks, must remember to do the same. Did Patanjali have the hottest pants and yoga mat of the first century? Yogis squatted, turned and bound their limbs on dirt floors. They came with nothing other than their body and breath, ready to surrender to bliss.
So, why do we decorate yoga? In the book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert tells Richard from Texas that she was thinking about how to decorate her meditation room. He says, “Decorate this,” referring to her mind. When we let go of our outward need to look the part and concentrate on opening the mind, we may be able to take our practice to somewhere beyond our imagination.
Taking the accessories away from yoga creates a challenge. It asks us to be naked. It creates a space of vulnerability. What if we release the trauma in our tissues and start crying? What if our downward facing dog does not look perfect? Meanwhile, our hair is a mess and we are wearing our raggedy sweats. What then? Perhaps we start to find yoga.
Yoga is not about accessories. Yoga is movement, breath, focus and unity. It is a path to enlightenment. It is a space that, no matter where our life is, we relinquish control. We can find bliss that lives beyond the asana. We can find the compassion that we all so desperately need for ourselves and others. And in that space, we may become a simple yogi.
Susan Kiskis owns Barefoot Yoga and Wellness Studio, in Mechanicsburg. For more information, visit BarefootWellnessStudio.com.