A Yoga Rant? Is that allowed?

“I tried yoga once and hated it. It’s not for me. It’s too slow.”

When I hear this (at least four times a year) the reaction in my gut is not pleasant. A few weeks ago, I had the same feeling after being yelled at -twice- by some cyclists when I errantly stepped into the bike lane in front of their invisible selves.

Oh my gosh! What a look of contempt that man had on his face. I feel terrible. Is it really necessary to make someone feel more idiotic by screaming and shaking fists? Do you really need to be riding your bike at 20 mph down 5th avenue? Well maybe you do. I’m so sorry. I’m leaving tomorrow and you will never see me again, although I will see you in my mind over and over for a long time. 

Do I really need to revisit my missteps? Didn’t the guys do me a favor by making me aware that bike paths are serious business?

Is my bruised ego so fragile that the slightest embarrassment makes me sick to my stomach?

What does it say about me if I’m upset that some people hate what I teach?

This is a perfect example as to why I practice yoga. It’s no longer an exercise option for laziness, it’s a way to investigate my big emotions.

Yoga is different from aerobics or circuit training. The physical practice is a way of tricking the ego into taking a break. 

A good teacher WILL ask us to note how we feel when we can’t seem to stay in a tree pose longer than five seconds. Is it the worst thing ever? 

A good teacher WILL encourage us to focus on physical and emotional sensations and then remind us that they are often unavoidable but temporary.

A good teacher WILL suggest that reactions on the mat are similar to actions off the mat.

A good teacher will listen to someone say “ I don’t practice yoga because I need to go go go” and NOT reply, “Evidently you lack the ability or discipline to sit with a quiet mind, and ask why?”

A good teacher will NOT demand to know “If yoga is not for you then who is it for?”

A good teacher will NOT write “If you tried skydiving once and hated it, okay, but a yoga class? Come on ya big baby.”

There are many people who don’t practice yoga because they feel calm, centered and content, or simply can’ t find the time. Not surprising, they aren’t the ones who tell me they hate it.

If I never got back on a bicycle after first falling off, I’d never have fallen off again. If I’d never taken more than one yoga class, I’d never have become a teacher.

Namaste: That’s my ego driven rant for today!

Wheels on the bike go round and round.

I consider myself athletic and I’m not the only one, the catalogs I get in the mail think so too. They are ready to outfit me for most every outdoor adventure under the sun.

Once I get a bit more serious at golf and quit practicing headstands while Honeybun tees off, I’ll purchase more appropriate attire. That’s bound to happen about the same time I buy a real biking outfit.

Dee and I rode on the rail trail today. My 10 speed (or is it a 12 speed) girls bike hasn’t been off the garage wall for years and the dense cobwebs left behind are proof. My helmet is quite comfortable considering mice removed all the interior padding. The seat seems a little high but then again aren’t you supposed to be on tiptoes when pedaling?

Earlier this week it was suggested that I practice mindfulness. I have a few too many tennis balls bouncing around in my head these days. An easy bike ride would be the perfect thing to do, be mindful, focus on this moment, this experience; enjoy the steady rhythm of the movement.

Because my helmet is basically a large bowl strapped to my head I can’t look behind me without it dropping over my eyes. Is something following me? I’m pretty good at scaring myself, especially if I’m not wearing glasses. Rabid dogs, stalking mountain lions and monsters could be behind me. Best not to dwell on the past (or what you never saw). Are my wheels completely attached?

I can’t look too far ahead because as wide as the track is, the illusion of it narrowing makes my arms and hands tingle. “Hey Dee, doesn’t it look like the track is a tightrope? What if it were? I’d be falling off left and right.” I veer from side to side feigning exaggeration as she moves on ahead.

No choice left but to slow down the breath and focus on the sensations of the two wheels under me.

“Wow dance sneakers slip off pedals pretty easily. Yoga shorts have zippo padding. This wide seat isn’t wide enough. These brakes sure are loud. If Dee points out one more ‘spooky’ thing I’m heading back.”

Eventually I end my soliloquy and spent the next 3 minutes in mindful bliss until I ride into Dee’s back wheel.

“I can’t believe you ran into me,” she yells. “We are barely moving!”

She’s right about that. It’s a slow motion collision. It’s not like I don’t see her, I just misjudge the stopping distance. For my own amusement I will be replaying that scene for decades.

“Remember the last time we rode bikes down that hill near your apartment in Somewhereville?” I ask.

“Yeah, your chain fell off three times” she replies.

“Is biking fun?” I ask rhetorically.

“Remember when we went mountain biking and I thought I could jump a log? Frankly I’m pretty sure I hate bikes. Do your handlebars face in a different direction than your front wheel? Maybe my bike is just for riding in circles. Can you imagine if we were on a tandem bike?”

“Stop talking right now or I will wet my pants” she replies.

Note to self: “This is what makes biking fun!”

On the return trip I find a steady pace nothing spooky behind me, no death defying obstacles ahead. “We’re almost back to the truck that took no time at all!” I feel happy, comfortable, calm, satisfied.

“Do you want to keep going?” Dee asks as she pulls ahead.

“No” I yell at her back.

“Oh thank God” she adds unnecessarily.

Mindfulness is just like riding a bike. At first it seems impossible without permanent training wheels. Once we have it down, time goes by and we leave it hanging on the wall too long and forget it’s an option. Brush off the cobwebs and we are soon sailing along again.

Time to find the old catchers mitt.

Namaste- anyone up for a game of croquet?