"For me the goal of doing yoga is union, union of the internal and external parts of me, union of me with others, and union of my self with the universal all-connected self. My inauthentic facade was separating, not uniting, the two parts of me as well as separating me from others. I was putting up a false front. I could do a good perfect-yoga-teacher impression. I even had the straight posture and the bushy beard. But underneath I was conflicted and neurotic. My goal was to be honest about being human--about my crazy mind, my occasional stop at Subway, and even my guilt about the whole affair. I believe that's where growth and freedom are to be found, in transparent, compassionate, mindful honesty, at least to one's self, about one's rationales, desires, emotions and thoughts. "
As a yoga teacher I have in the past battled with my own decisions from the simple to more complex all in the name of being a "good " yoga teacher. (A "good" yoga teacher has their own water bottle always, never disposable fast food drink cups! lol, I so relate!) In the last year I have only taught to close friends, in doing so, I've had an Ah Ha realization that I can still be a good teacher and stay true to my authentic self. In fact, I think it makes me a much better teacher.
Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi
An Excerpt from Chapter 1
I became a yoga zealot pretty quickly. I loved feeling, for the first time, the muscles between my ribs as I stretched in setu ban-dhasana (bridge pose). I loved the prayers — this was the first time I had taken seriously a charge to effect world peace — and I loved the relaxation. Oskar’s deep, euphonic voice soothed every muscle in my body, and when he said “relaaaax,” I melted.
One day after class I told Oskar about my colitis. He recommended that I practice “[insert deep, relaxing voice] moooola bannnda” sixty times a day. He explained, “Tense ouup and then relaaaax your anouuuse” thirty times every morning and thirty times every night.
Say again? Oskar had a pretty thick accent, and I was sure that I must have misheard him. He could not possibly have told me to tense and then relax my anus sixty times a day.
In fact, I doubt that I had ever, in my eighteen years, heard anyone speak about my anus at all before. Sure, I had heard the word used, but not in the context of my anus and certainly not by a bearded and sandaled yoga teacher dressed all in white.
Pursing my lips, squinting slightly, and bobbing my head like I was earnestly considering his wise counsel, I thanked him politely as I backed away. For days I shook my head and puzzled at what in the world he possibly could have said that sounded so much like anus.*
* Years later, in my studies of yoga, I learned of the bandhas, or “locks,” as they translate into English, and sure enough there was mula bandha, a practice of lifting the muscles in the pelvic floor, from pubis to rectum, as in Kegel exercises. And mula bandha, the book instructed, could be used therapeutically for, among other things, ailments of the gastrointestinal tract. So it happened that Oskar was, of course, spot-on!
Excerpted from the book Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi ©2012 by Brian Leaf. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com
Brian Leaf, M.A. is the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi. He draws upon twenty-one years of intensive study, practice, and teaching of yoga, meditation, and holistic health. Visit him online at http://www.Misadventures-of-a-Yogi.com.