How many topics can a blogger write about yoga? When it comes to the physical benefits of the practice there seems to be only one category that sums it up. Looking better naked. Somehow that became the goal. Now, who are we aiming to look better than? Are we striving to look better than our current self or someone else? Both options take us far away from the present moment, where everything is happening.
I get the whole physical benefits of yoga is awesome thing. It's useful to live in a healthy, vibrant, functioning body. A regular yoga practice along with healthy life choices, and a good deal of self-respect and personal growth, can take you there. But the truth is, there is no "there." Once you get there, it turns into here, so why not enjoy being here right now?
If you are fixated about being there, you'll miss out on here, and never get there anyway. Life has a way of playing these tricks on us as a test and a challenge to wake up and live our lives. Physical yoga shows us there is always a pose that we can't do, so get over it already. There is nowhere to go. You're already here. Now that doesn't mean you don't have to try. Laziness will also keep you knocked out of the moment. Awareness guides us back in. Use what you need. Relax what you don't. Give away the rest to the Salvation Army.
Ram Dass says, "The most exquisite paradox: As soon as you give it all up you can have it all."
We have the knowledge and intuition to maintain health, but we ignore it by taking ourselves out of the present. We plan meal times instead of eating when we are hungry. We go on diets instead of living healthy. We have deferred life plans instead of choosing and doing our passion.
Our world encourages us to detach from the moment, put ourselves down, and live for something other than where we are right now. We're taught that it's selfish, irresponsible to live in the moment, when the truth is it's the only responsible thing to do for ourselves, the people around us, and even our futures. We're also taught that aging is terrible, and we must do everything to combat the process in fear of being discarded and losing our power.
It's true the practice of yoga can make you look and feel younger than your years. A healthy lifestyle earns you a vibrant appearance and a body filled with energy. More interestingly the practice of yoga can bring us, possibly, maybe, with a lot of work, to conscious aging. Being in the moment, instead of attempting to cheat the moments and relish in the past, can free us from our unnecessary worries, concerns and fears about our mortality. We've all had at least glimpses of this, for however short or long they've lasted. We realize the awesomeness of the universe, the richness of our being, and our ability to connect with people on a soul level. Once we realize that level of being alive exists, why would we go back to anything else? Because it's crazy hard and almost impossible to maintain a lifetime in awareness, especially when we have lives, families, jobs, and ambitions...but it's possible and worth the try.
I was on a retreat about a year ago, and after a couple days of being in nature, practicing yoga, eating wholesome food made with love and awareness, and then actually settling into what I was experiencing, I saw something amazing. I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and iridescent dotted lines started to form and connect everything that was in my range of vision. The lines were vibrant and pulsating and very real. They looked like laser beams. I'm not sure how long I was seeing this but the moment when I noticed myself noticing that I was seeing something unusual and special they started to fade. I tried to will them back, and they faded completely. I'm convinced the formula for the flux capacitor was revealing itself to me so I could phone in the 4th installment of Back to the Future. The moment of recognition that something is happening different from what we think or expect is the moment the inner-workings of the universe say goodbye for now.
When I was a little kid I saw similar things. I saw very bright colors, brighter than is what in our color spectrum and richer than neon, dance in lines and waves around my room. I saw them every night when I went to sleep. The moment my light was turned off, darkness would roll in and my own personal light show of the universe began. It was even different every night. How kind of the universe to offer me diversity in my visions. I never second guessed it and I always knew it would be there waiting for me. I suppose the colors stopped visiting around the time I got busy planning moments that hadn't happened yet. Every once in a while, maybe after an inspiring day or sometimes when I just get caught off guard, the colors pay me a visit again.
We all have these experiences, however rare or frequent. The cool thing is the universe is always there, ready to reveal itself to us and show us how amazing we truly are, if only we are in the moment.
Living in the moment frees us from our ideas about our selves, our bodies, and what we think our lives should be. Everything that exists and everything we need is right here with us right now. We can become un-concerned with what we have and don't have and be our best and most present self fully right where we are. When we can view life in the present as a series of experiences and amazing moments, instead of just steps that get us somewhere else, the range of possibility expands beyond what we think our limitations are or should be.