Balance, flexibility, strength. Yoga has been my friend for about ten years now, but more of a passing, casual friend-of-a-friend kind of relationship. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been doing Ashtanga yoga almost every single day. No classes, no sexy gear, just me and my cheapo mat, in my micro-palace, focusing on the primary series and inversion work. Yoga is now my one true companion. Daily, I learn something new from it, and daily, it pushes me to my limits.
The Ashtanga primary series is a group of moves that are considered the standard sequence for any basic Ashtanga class. There are variations for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, so you can adjust your practice as you improve, and challenge yourself to try new poses. I’m an intermediate practitioner, so I tend to focus on the core moves and increasingly add more challenging inversions and flexibility work into my mix.
What I love about practicing at home is that is requires zero prep. I get up, brush my teeth and wash my face, turn on the zen sounds, and do my thing. I only practice about 20-30 minutes a day, but I do it every day… yeah standing on my head has become a minimum requirement for me. I have to get massages every so often because a lot of the inversion and back work requires muscles that have gone largely unused, so I’m sore a lot, but it’s that “hell yeah, I feel great” sore, not the “owow-something’s-wrong” sore.
I’ve noticed physical changes for sure. My arm strength has increased dramatically and my legs are more defined. But any instructor will tell you, yoga is not fitness. It’s a discipline of the mind. There is something wonderfully peaceful about transmuting your energy and thought direction into a single, pointed, physical act. When I’m done for the morning, I’m never tired (maybe a little sore?). Usually, I feel revived. Not happy exactly, but content and level, ready for the day.
Meditation and yoga have worked for me in oh so many ways. Yes, peace of mind and a tighter physical form, but more importantly, they’ve given me insight into who I am and what matters most. The people who love me (and how to recognize and accept that!), my creative enterprises, and the notion that my identity in the external world is merely a veneer I apply to get on with it all. And the people in my world? Their veneers aren’t who they are either. Being still and focused and connecting: to me, those inner worlds are where life is really at. Vast, unfathomable, and so so lovely.
Being in Tokyo has given me the time and space to discover so many things about America, Asia, and the magicland that is Japan, but most importantly, it’s helping me learn that I don’t need to “find myself,” or figure anything out. I’ve been here all along, and for the most part, life reveals itself as it should. And it’s beautiful.