Why I Love Yoga

I donít talk about yoga that muchÖmaybe because itís a little too important to me. I donít actually think Iíd be able to do everything I do without it. And Iíd certainly be a lot more miserableóphysically, mentally, and spiritually. And thatís the thing about yogaóeven if you donít intend it to, it deeply impacts all three parts of your self. Itís like exercise for the threads that connect us to ourselves and to everything else.

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Iím not one of those naturally flexible yoga bunnies who traipse down the street in yoga wear with a sticky mat strapped to my back. No, I do yoga at home. And Iíve been fortunate to have two amazing teachers in my life. I do it at home because I donít want my yoga to be about comparing myself to anyone elseóI need it to be about me, and Iíve been fortunate that Iíve been able to afford private teachers.

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Because of my disciplined nature and a desire to get as close to an original source as possible in all things, it was natural for me to gravitate to Iyengar yoga. Mr. Iyengar brought yoga to America in the 1950s and weíve never been the same since. But I donít chant (yet). Iím not a vegetarian (yet), and Iím not a Hindu, either. Although I do have quite a few Hindu goddesses hanging around the houseóbut thatís a different story. And I certainly donít think that yoga is the answer to everything. In fact, since Iíve started running, my yoga has actually gotten better!

For about 13 years now, Iíve done yoga at home once a week, on and off (more on than off). I havenít lost any weight because of it, but Iíve gained an inner strength that I rely on every day. And the only way I can describe it is that it opens the channels of your senses in your body to the extent that your perception of everything changesÖ Itís like putting on a pair of clean, new glasses, and suddenly everything is so much clearer. But itís the nose, the skin, the ears, the heart, and the soul that also open. Like a lotus!

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My first teacher gave me a very strong foundation. But as students often do, I outgrew her. She also taught me what not to do. For instance, I am convinced that I donít need to become a Hindu in order to be a good yogini. And the definition of guru to me just means teacherónot some mystical holy being. We are all mystical and holy; itís just that some people are more awake than others.

I was very fortunate many years ago, when we published Light on Life, Mr. Iyengarís latest book, to get to meet him. He came to our New York offices, and everyone said, ďDonít touch him!Ē But he came right up to me and grabbed my hands. Then he took off his clothes (he was wearing his little blue yoga panties) and did a headstand. He was 87 at the time.† Now, Iím not the kind of person to do weird stuff in front of others (Iím basically shy), but when I was invited to do a headstand for Mr. Iyengar and have him spot me, wellÖI couldnít resist! (Itís actually one of my favorite poses.) The picture I have of me in my Armani pants doing a headstand with Mr. Iyengar is one of my most valuable possessions (although I also know that possessions are meaningless, reallyóand, by the way, I no longer wear Armani).† Rumor has it he also drinks coffee, so I can really respect that man!

My current yoga teacher, Holly Walck from Jai Yoga is a little bit of a rebel, but sheís amazing. In fact, I will never trust a yoga teacher who doesnít have a sense of humor. Holly does! There are many weeks when she shows up at my door and I am literally barely holding it together. And two hours later I am reborn. Because part of what is great about yogaóand what I love about itóis that it also acknowledges the importance of rest and reflection.† The fact that each class ends with Shivasana is essential.† Yoga reconnects me to my body, and in that reconnection, it balances my mind and restores my soul.
Itís not the ďbe all and end allĒ for me. Donít worry, Iím not going to leave it all behind and go to India. Yoga is the beginning, not the end. As Mr. Iyengar said to me in a letterÖĒsavor the nectar of yoga.Ē It is sweet and good and beautiful and filled with love.

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Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola2 years ago

Great article,thanks for sharing

Jessica H.
Jessica H.4 years ago

I would love to see that picture of you in an armani suit doing headstand with Iyengar!

Geetha Subramaniam

Deborah C. There really is no "conversion" ceremony. You can "become" a Hindu when you marry Hindu man. Hinduism is based on the community and its communal culture rather than the individual. It is not only about "living" a Vedic life. It's tough to explain. Hindu parents have Hindu children, who needn't be born in India. The British when they were ruling India, happily legislated that any Indian who is not a Christian or Muslim is a Hindu! Even the term Hindu is not of our culture/religion!

The site you provided a link to, what it says could be true. It quotes many people, who may have said what it claims. I am no scholar of Hinduism.

Hope this helps!

Deborah C.
Deborah C.4 years ago

I was just thinking about this and I thought you could become a Hindu if you were not born Hindu. This is one of the places I read that http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resources/books/hbh/hbh_ch-5.html
@ Geetha Subramaniam Is this a valid source?

Geetha Subramaniam

Thanks for the article. Just a couple of thoughts to share. One:no one can become a Hindu. Either you are born one or you are not :) Two: Guru does mean teacher. In the Vedic way of life, a Guru is revered and respected, and holds the position of respect right after mother and father, and comes before God :)

Deborah C has a point.

Enjoy your yoga.

Jewels S.
Jewels S.4 years ago

Deborah I got that same judgemental feeling from the author. Yes yoga is about not judging yourself against the next person. The rest of us got that. I think the problem is in the authors problem with competitiveness. I used to care what people thought of me too much but taking up yoga was the beginning of changing that for me. I went to classes for years for guidance but do it at home now to save money, time and it works for me. I just feel the author has a bit of a judgemental problem.

Blueberry M.
Blueberry M.4 years ago

I love yoga!

Zee Kallah
.4 years ago

I like Bhakti yoga.

I am a mystic.

My experiences are out of this world...literally!!!

Deborah C.
Deborah C.4 years ago

I am upset with the author's stereotyping and mocking yoga practitioners who carry a mat to class and take classes in a yoga studio with other people? "Yoga bunnies"? really? None of my fellow yogis can afford a private teacher and we are not there competing with each other. It isn't just exercise to us, it is a special time to come together and celebrate our practice and combined energy, chant and meditate and do what we can to try to send out lovingkindness to the world and I agree with a previous poster on what the true meaning of yoga is. If you do not feel that way and use yoga for exercise, (which I think is fine also), then I can more understand your thought that people in a class are there to compete. I happen to be very flexible, some of that is genetic and some is because when I practice, I breathe to allow myself to feel an opening and my muscles do relax and open more over time. It feels great and even exhilarating to me to practice more difficult asanas and to challenge my body as well as my mind. When I need to focus to do strenuous postures and tricky balances, I am clearing my mind of the daily chatter running through it and it teaches me how to do that off my yoga mat as well. I believe that allows me to be able to deal with daily stressors in a positive way and give more to my family and to others. I practice different styles of yoga including Iyengar and Ashtanga. There are different challenges for each style and level of difficulty of yoga.

Francine P.
Francine P.4 years ago

I have been going to a yoga class once a week for a little over a year now. I am 58 now and it feels better than 30 years ago. It is more difficult though now I really appreciate the benefits.
Thank you Yengar yoga, the best yoga there is.