Monday, November 9, 2009

Not an Escape

Something unique happens when we come to the yoga studio. We close the door behind us, shutting the noisy world outside. We remove the dirt and insulation of our well-worn shoes, forgetting for a moment the path we trod to arrive. We shed our coat, those heavy responsibilities we carry like burdens. We even drop our bag carrying our identification card proclaiming who we are. And then, lighter, like walking on sacred ground, we enter the yoga studio and roll out our mat, our sacred practice space.

It’s difficult not to feel like we are escaping from something. The irony is that the more we try to escape the world, the more the world seems to be on our heels. You may say to yourself, “I’m consciously escaping the world. Ah how sweet.” But what happens the second you step out of the studio? “Darn you, World!” you say as you pump your fist in the air, “I was escaping you and here you are again!” Unfortunately, our problems don’t go away because we choose to ignore them.

Instead, as we practice yoga, we choose to momentarily hang up our responsibilities and problems like our coat on the hook. Yes, and so doing, we refine the conversation with our truer selves, the constant part of us that is the same whether or not we made our mortgage payment on time. In yoga practice, we quiet and focus our minds, open our hearts, and ground ourselves as we move, strengthen, and stretch our bodies, the divine vehicle for mind and spirit. And as we get into the groove of our practice, our practice feels more real than even our mortgage payment.

After class, having touched this truer self, we now have the privilege to go back and grab our bag, don our coat, and put on our shoes, now with a different relationship to our responsibilities. Either they are no longer a burden but rather a sacred stewardship, one that grows from the relationship we have with the brilliance of our truer selves, or we now have the clarity and courage to change that which doesn’t make us feel alive. Our problems don’t change but our relationship to them does.

As we practice yoga regularly and apply this concept of relationship, we begin to treat our life like our yoga practice, balanced with steadiness and ease, with power and grace, and with an open heart and full attention. Now, we are summoning our highest selves to lead this life. With this higher self in control, what we finally escape is not the entire world, just the part of it that contained that old self who carried all those burdens and who lacked the power to make courageous changes.

See you in class!!


John Steele said...

Hi Scott,

I am back from Vietnam and all I have been doing is
working on my presentation, which when done, I would ask you to view it and give me your input. I want reach across as many generational lines as possible. Two plus weeks at the most.

The second reason why I am writing you is with regards to this weeks letter.

Stepping into the current Yoga classes, at Flow as
well as Kula(those are the only two I have been to)_
it like stepping into a Disco Club. This is something that I have asked Evelyn about. Am I just old and the New Yoga is with Music? Evelyn feels very similar.

Personally I do not enjoy it(music) during the class,
but at the end(Savahsana) your haunting Clarinet
was and is awesome. It seems now that the music has gotten to be a prominent part of the class, Yoga has become Aerobics.

I am not saying that it does not have its place, however I wish there were some classes free of the sound of the thump, thump , thump. In fact, there
are sometimes that if you are in Studio B at
Sugarhouse Flow, that the music is so loud in A, that it bleeds through the wall.

As a Ski Instructor for many years, I certainly would
not teach students (group or private) with the distraction of music in the back round. When I come to class, I want to obtain the most benefit
and knowledge as possible. There are some very good instructors in Salt Lake. You are one them.

Do you have any suggestions? Better yet, places that do not use music during class?

I hope that this finds you well.

John Steele

rlange said...


Your "Not an Escape" letter caught my attention - good stuff; paying attention to the subtle and maybe not so subtle changes in feeling and awareness that yoga can facilitate. But your letter also comunicates an intimate connection/ relationship with the practice; one that celebrates its ability to take us out of (or maybe enrich) our day-to-day experience of consciousness. I recognize this connection thing in your words, but can't quite name it. Is it passion?

Keep on writing.


Rolf Lange

Scottro said...

John, Great conversation. I've thought a lot about this topic. I think you are correct: any sort of instruction will be diluted with distractions. Music can certainly distract from some people's experience. And yes, yoga is evolving, hopefully not to the exclusion of those who appreciate a quiet practice but does include a lot of new aspects that weren't seen even a few years ago. Music is a tool that needs to be used wisely. I feel that there is a place for music in a practice, however once it becomes about the music and no longer the yoga, I believe that needs to be re-evaluated. Sometimes it's nice to groove to tunes but so long as it doesn't get in the way if instruction and the ability to hear your own inner teacher. Unless it's a workshop with a particular emphasis on music or groove I usually like to keep my voice as the most audible thing in the class room. My Centered City Yoga classes don't have music in them, neither do my classes at Kula. I hope to see you in class soon. Good luck with your presentation. I can't wait to see it.


Scottro said...

For me, the word you may be searching is simply connection. It's feeling drawn to and able to connect with your True Self. This in turn connects us to the other souls we see around us. This connection feels very natural and comfortable and therefore we seek it everywhere and look to perpetuate it so we continue to practice. We start to see the same thing we glimpsed in ourselves as the the essence of everything. Sorry if this is too "out there" but this is what yoga is teaching us.

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