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.
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.
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!
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.