I’m not a joiner. I take up solo activities; writing, running, reading. All these things can be shared but are usually done alone. After my brother died I decided I wanted to start doing yoga. But I wasn’t about to join a class, so I bought a video. I played this video nearly everyday for a year. I’ve gone to a few classes and this past fall I even lived in a yoga community for a couple months. I went to class a few times a week and ran around the Berkshire hills. But now that I’m living alone again my yoga is once more, solo. Sometimes I think this is wrong, that I am “supposed” to have a teacher. I enjoy my home practice but there is a guilt that nags at me. Yesterday I started reading Claire Dederer’s delightful book, Poser My life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses and I’m already half way through. Dederer gives the most honest reactions of a first-timer. She is confused by the religious aspect of yoga, and supplies one of my most favorite lines thus far,
I suspected that many of the students around me would not be willing to listen to an aerobics teacher lecture them about Jesus.
She is funny, witty, honest but most of all genuine in her quest to understand and appreciate this new found love of yoga that has come into her life. I identify with her story and like to think that my yoga practice is better than no practice, and so I continue to do it. In chapter five about pigeon pose Dederer says,
I was deeply interested in how far I might go in pigeon, how deep the tension was, and whether or not I might release some of that tension. I would keep doing that work.
I didn’t know it at the time, but it was at this moment, when I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to learn the right way to do yoga but that I would instead continue doing it, following my teacher and doing my work to the best of my ability, that I began to reap the fruits of yoga. Submission, trust, transmission from teacher to student, imperfection, the release of the ego – these were the things that would save me from myself, even if they were as unfamiliar as Krishna with his blue face. You can’t go deeper and know what you’re doing the whole time.