Mid-1999, I remember thinking, for reasons that remain fuzzy, that I needed to find “a way to get into shape.” I had little experience of gyms but felt sure, somehow, I didn’t want machinery involved in my getting into shape.
(Right or wrong, I had visions of people all wearing headphones, sweating profusely, running as if chased by antelopes.)
Weren’t there ways of being healthy that were natural and didn’t necessarily involve taking medicines or eating almost nothing? I asked a friend and he told me that he had taken up yoga a few years back in order to develop the strength to work in a nursing home lifting patients. It was all he could think of to tell me. Had it helped? It had.
This was the day of VCRs and I used a truly beautiful and useful tape created by Rodney Yee. The name of it was, I believe, “AM and PM Yoga for Meditation” and I practiced in my living room — I remember exactly where the TV was, oddly enough — every morning before work and often in the afternoons when I had time. Meanwhile, as with anything I become interested in, I started checking out books on yoga and figuring out exactly what it was supposed to be and do.
My plan was to use the tape to get my body used to the asanas or poses, as they were called, and so when I got up the nerve to attend a class — I had a studio picked out — I would at least know enough not to look like the clueless newbie I would actually be.
I found a pair of 100% cotton long-length yoga pants, pale brown in color, with an orange dragon on one leg. Somehow it seems unlikely that I found this at Kmart or Walmart, but where else did I shop back then? No Amazon to speak of. I bought a mat that was slightly thicker than other mats: the color was pomegranate. I have had a lot of mats since 2000. Perhaps I got one as a gift for Christmas 1999. And there was the outdoor mat, used on the deck, which is a great place to do your home practice of yoga, by the way.
So, along around the spring of 2001, I decided I was ready and I called and talked to Leon Bowsky, an articulate fellow some years older than me and the owner of Lotus Yoga, and he told me to come on down and talk to Linda, who taught from 6-7:30. And I did.
And it changed my whole life; at least, it’s possible that beginning a yoga practice, a yoga sadhana as it is called, brought just enough self-directed discipline to a life not known for being very disciplined
I was already attracted to the unusual nature of ayurvedic medicine generally — there seems to be a spiritual/heart element present in its modes of healing — but I read such things as the biographies of famous Indian guys like Ramakrishna, translations of the Yoga Sutra and the Upanishads — all the while doing the physical work of learning, for instance, the flow of poses involved in the simple vinyasa called a sun salutation.
[to be continued]