Yoga is no longer the exclusive privilege of solitary cave men. Today´s yogis work for money, have relationships and live busy lives. This can spark the apparent dilemma between “my yoga practice” and “dealing with stuff”. You can hear it when we modern yogis talk about practice as that other thing we need to counter balance our life. We use yoga as an anti-dote to stress. We use yoga a bit of non-doing in a week of frantic activity. We use yoga as a bit of “yin” to all that “yang”. (fill in your favorite). Modern yoga seems to be fraught with a bittersweet longing for the cave, the alternative, the other. This is how we practice when life gets a little too hectic: to get a break, to heal and rest. There is nothing wrong with this. It really does get us a long way and we really do need it.
As we move further into our practice things may change. We discover that the cave is just another place in the world, not an antidote, not a separate space outside it. That the same old stuff is going on in here as everywhere else. Because whatever we do, the things happening now are our life, there is no cave to hide in, you are always right in the middle of it. The good news is that you are then also always smack in the middle of your yoga practice. You never left. Disturbing thoughts, pain, difficult relationships, stress, loneliness, joy, love, children, friends, parties, food, email, taxes, work, these are all here as part of your practice. This is the moment where yoga stops being that other thing we do to get a break from a busy life. Where we discover yoga as an invitation to become one with the constant activity of life.
Any yoga posture can extend that invitation to intimacy, to become one with, to needing nothing “other”. Solitary cave men had bodies just like you and me. And becoming one with the body through deeply feeling it, will blur all our neat distinctions between activity and release, holding on and letting go. Feeling the body in dynamic movement, we can encounter a deep inner stillness. Feeling the body in passive stillness, we can encounter subtle pulsations, rhythms and activities. Being still is not other than moving. Moving is not other than stillness. The same logic goes for yoga and that which apparently seems like “not yoga”. Perhaps your practice is no other than your life.