“What’s up with that yoga thing?”
I was chatting with a young friend and fellow Ashtangi at the shala the other day about how she loves sleeping in and practicing around 4:30 in the afternoon. “Yeah,” I said, “It was a major lifestyle change when I made the commitment to practice in the mornings.”
Such an understatement. Steve’s post yesterday really stirred up some thoughts. How did this happen? How in the world did I get here? And worse: How do I explain it to people without it sounding like I’m in a cult?
Back in the day, I used to eat a whole large pizza all by myself. I used to cuss (well, I still cuss but not as much). I used to do all kinds of things until the wee hours of the morning: I used to go out at night. I was a Friend of the Band. I used to write poetry until I fell asleep at the desk, glass of whiskey in my hand. I used to read until dawn. I loved steak with the red hot love of a thousand suns. I used to just get in the car and take off. I used to have blue hair.
I wasn’t a morning person…That’s the real kicker. I, basically, arranged my life around not starting anything before 11. Even when I was doing construction work, my boss knew not to give me any power tools before lunch—strictly heavy lifting jobs. As a college instructor, the scheduler knew not to even ask about the early classes or risk a long and painfully detailed list of reasons why it’s not in the students’ best interest to schedule me before noon.
So when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while, there are some weird and awkward moments. “What happened to you, Bobbie?” an old college buddy asked, “You used to rock.” It’s pretty difficult, at this point, for me to remember that me (specifics were hazy to begin with). So when they ask some version of, “What’s up with the yoga thing?” it’s difficult to formulate a credible answer. Honestly, I don’t think my old friends would believe me if I told them what I do now.
It occurred to me that it’s not the asana but the austerities of Ashtanga that are so hard to explain, and they’re hard to explain because the clear relationship the Yamas and Niyamas have to the practice itself. It’s such a one-to-one correlation; if you actually have to talk about it with someone who doesn’t practice Ashtanga, you come off sounding like a self-righteous jerk who’s judging them for eating steak and/or drinking whiskey.
And while Ashtanga certainly attracts Type A personalities, it also has its fair share of Type Zs such as myself. (Is there a Type Z? What’s furthest from a Type A?) When it does, the transition from “rocking” to 6 a.m. pranayama can stretch the bonds of credulity among your friends and family.
Although the change was gradual—it took years and years—it happened. Here I am, getting up at 5 a.m. (and subsequently sleepy by 10 p.m.), and loving it. I’m guessing, in the end, I have to just let the “loving it” speak for itself, and when I’m asked, “What’s up with the yoga thing?” just say, “You should try it,” with a little “bwah ha ha ha” laugh in my head.
Posted by Bobbie