Monday, July 14, 2014

Yoga: Finding Community

I had a cool experience yesterday. I was going to use the word “neat” to describe it, but I’ve been self-conscious about doing so ever since using it in describing something to my 15-year-old son. “Neat?” he said, laughing. “Who uses that word?” So I’m dated.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. Life has been really, really busy lately; but I’ve also not felt a desire to write.

Mark and I have been putting a lot of time and effort into training for a bicycle tour we are doing in late August and early September in France. We experienced a setback in early June when our bikes were stolen, followed by a weeklong trip to southern Utah with the kids. Then, when we got back on the bikes in mid-June and putting some serious mileage on them, I developed severe lower back pain. 

It took me a couple of weeks to realize that my bike had not been properly fitted. By then, the pain was debilitating on climbing rides. I became increasingly depressed about prospects for training the rest of the summer. Because of this, I decided to go to some yoga classes at a studio very close to our house to see if that would help. 

I was caught totally off guard by how much and how quickly I came to love yoga and how much I looked forward each day to going to a class (first two weeks for $30). I loved how my body was feeling after class – stronger, more limber, cleansed. My lower back pain began almost immediately to improve (and I took my bike back and had it refitted, which also has helped a great deal) and continues to do so.

But there was something else. Part of it was the sense of positive energy I felt in class and the sense of peace that I became aware of and benefitted from. Part of it was the energy, enthusiasm and wisdom of the teachers. But part of it was also the growing sense that I was becoming part of a community of others like me who are seeking health, wholeness and peace, who are loving and accepting with no ulterior motives. 

This sense of community has been growing over the past couple of weeks, but it was the experience I had yesterday that gave texture and substance to this sense of community. I had gone to a yoga class and had then popped into the grocery store next to the studio. Upon entering the store, I heard a female voice say, “Joseph!” I was momentarily stunned. No one has called me by name in any store that I have entered in the area I have lived for the past three years. 

I looked in the direction of the voice and saw one of my yoga teachers (my favorite) with a huge smile on her face. (She has always been exuberant and had met Mark and knows that we are a gay couple.) As I walked toward her, she put out an arm in a gesture inviting a hug. I responded, surprised but pleased. She then started asking me about my upcoming trip to Oregon (which we are now on), about the class I had just attended (with a different teacher), etc.

It was a small thing, yet a huge thing. I am part of a community of loving, respectful people. I look forward to getting to know others in that community, to sharing and growing, to learning what yoga has in store for my physical, emotional and spiritual self and to contributing my own peace to that community.
“I like the fact that my attraction to yoga is growing organically out of me. Because of this, I am developing confidence that I will learn more about yoga, but not necessarily on what I perceive to be my timetable. I have to learn to trust that path. The same applies to my Buddhist path. I’m not immediately going to try to go out and learn all I can about the path that has been opened to me, as if I could just put on such knowledge like a cloak that would envelope me. No. This process must be organic and grow out of me. By allowing this process to play out, I will be led to where I need to go.” 
Journal, 5 July 2014
P.S.: The lead photo was taken on Big Beach in Maui in May 2012.

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