“You Western people think about your bum while you practice, I think about where my bum meets my soul!”
Written by Olya Amburg
“Honey, are you trying to imitate a doughnut?”
I got this question from my beloved grandma as she entered the room where I was struggling to do Ustrasana (camel pose) for the first time.
It’s been two years since I found my yoga and my family not only accepted but embraced it too. Though the “doughnut” question gave me no rest. Do people really see yoga simply as a body-twist routine?
Later on my concern got even worse. I took a yoga class while studying at Utah State University. Once a friend of mine asked to join the group. It came as a surprise, because she had never expressed any interest in yoga practice and in reply to my astonished look, she said: “I just want to learn how to do a headstand!”
Why we do yoga
So do we really do yoga to look at the world from upside down? Well, the universe might look much better this way, but this is not the reason to go to yoga class.
I was curious and continued asking just to find out that my friends and acquaintances were doing yoga because they wanted to lose weight, because Jennifer Aniston does it, because they looked cool with the yoga mat, etc. …
Most of them could not rally define what yoga is.
Here are some of the replies that I got:
Too sad, but it was hardly possible to persuade them that “looking cool” is not the sole benefit of yoga to strive for.
What clinched it for me
Summer 2014, which I spent on Bali, was one more step to an ultimate yoga discovery. On the island I met a Thai monk who’d been practicing yoga (it seemed) for his entire life.
His old but lean, super-fit body was twisting into asanas I would not be capable of doing for many more years.
I asked how did he manage to maintain such stamina in his old (I’d say ancient) years.
A mischievous smile and reply followed:
“You, Western people, think about your bum while practice, I think about where my bum meets my soul!”
My initial reaction of laugh changed to the one of understanding. It is, for the starters, the drastic cultural difference that prevents us from engaging yoga the way people of the East do.
They treat a human being as an inseparable system of mind, body and soul while the Western tradition propagates slicing ourselves into layers and working on each by turn.
The dire truth is in the hustle of the modern world rarely do we reach further than the first layer, which is our body shape.
Yoga is something that helps to dig deeper and the only two things you need to practice is your mind and your body. Well, maybe a teacher. And to find one there is no need to to go to India or practice in a trendy yoga studio surrounded by two more dozens of practitioners.
My way was to start doing yoga online with udaya.com and I found much more than incredible teachers. It is a community of people that are passionate about the holistic approach to this ancient life system and show how to embrace it in your own pace.
I hope this story has helped you and you find your yoga journey to be its own interesting and unique experience. Feel free to tell me about it sometime!