When Can you start?

Who really completed a year of yoga? “Peat” and “Repeat.” Let’s say me and my adorable twin sister start yoga. We’re the same age, same height, same weight – we’re identical twins. There’s only one major difference. I had my kid at the tender age of 22. My well-educated sister, however, went on to complete her master’s degree. She still has a five and a ten-year-old at home. For this reason she can only attend yoga one night a week. Meanwhile I can make three nights. Christmas eve we’re sitting around visiting with mom who innocently asks “How was your first year of yoga?” The question is: who really completed a year of yoga? The answer is?

Neither of us.

Say whhaattt? Aren’t there twelve months in a year? Didn’t we pay $40 times twelve? What’s up Kumari? Here’s the point: a year has 365 days. “Repeat” is going to have to finish seven years to make one, and me? At three times a week I’ll finish my first year in a third of that: two years and four months. There’s nothing wrong with that. Yoga is not a competitive sport. Yoga is a way of life. Life has a way of catching up with me. Let’s say for example me and Repeat started our yoga practice when we were seven years old. There’s a limit to how much money mom is going to spend on extra curricular activities. We each attend only once a week. But guess what? We’re only 14 by the time we complete our first year. Chances are, a kid who’s done yoga from age 7 to 14 will continue to use yoga for meditation, flexibility and physical health the rest of her life. The kids are alright. I’m not a fan of “adultizing” little kids anyway. I wouldn’t recommend a full hour-long class to a kid unless they showed precocious interest. How then is a kid to learn?

Simply, naturally – either by working with a parent, family friend, a magazine or a book.

The kids are alright but what about middle-aged twins Peat and Repeat? If I start a diligent yoga practice at 50, can I afford to wait until I’m 57 to finish year one? By middle age I would get more benefit, much more, by doing yoga daily. If I’ve completed seven years of yoga by the time I’m 57 I’ll be in better shape than Repeat who only has one day a week. Let’s face it, by age 50, no matter how many kids I’ve had – my body is passing through menopause. There comes a time when I have to admit this seven years is not the same as that seven years. I highly recommend doing at least a little yoga daily. What if Repeat has family obligations? Scouts, karate, soccer ? Simple answer. Don’t make yoga a segregated activity. Fold it into life. Do yoga with your family or around them. Split practice in to 20 minute bite size pieces, or carve out an hour alone. (Do it while they’re watching TV.)  When I had a small child I practiced early morning before he got up or after his bedtime.

Model a lifelong yoga practice.

Why not? It’s not any weirder than eating healthy food or reading good books. Kids are curious about stuff adults like to do. Kids are suspicious of stuff adults have to do.  Don’t force yer kids to do something you wouldn’t do. If you want your kids to enjoy yoga, expose ’em! The more laze about, overweight and stiff my school age child is, the more one must proceed with caution. Don’t pack ’em off to fat camp. No one, least of all an innocent child, needs to feel less than. Feel less than three. <3. Present healthy habits with love, joy and fun. Guess what happens? The more I did yoga the more tuned in I became. I became more sensitive to my body, my needs – other people’s needs. I felt calmer, less stressed. I learned the difference between important and urgent. I organized my time more efficiently by necessity; I felt less harried as a result.

Creativity is born by practice out of discipline.

A yoga analogy. Let’s say me and Repeat want to get to New York to visit our Aunt Saladin. We haven’t got the resources to get there by plane but we do have an infinite amount of time. Repeat decides she can’t go. She gives up trying. She turns to other interests. Aunt Saladin is disappointed. Very disappointed. I decide I must  make amends, I will visit the poor dear. I will sneak onto a plane. Stow away! Why not? It’s free, kind of exciting. I feel exhilarated all the way up until my arrest. Phooey. Getting detained? Spending time in jail? I set back my whole trip by several years. I’m not allowed to leave the state while on probation. Meanwhile what happened to Repeat? She has a change of heart. She flies to Denver. Stays with a friend. Makes a little money lecturing. Substitute teaching. Finishing a paper. Earns enough money to fly on to Chicago. Three months later she lands in New York and visits Aunt Saladin.

What if I told you Aunt Saladin is a metaphor for the elusive yoga pose?

Stymied by the lotus pose? Head stand? or a set of ten sun salutes? They are daunting. More than daunting. Like the trip to New York, they may be impossible at present. I have choices. I can give up. Start other interests. Become a runner, a biker, do quilting instead. Some of those choices might make me stronger, others take me off on a tangent that will not intersect with a success at yoga. Another choice is to push myself past common sense. Kind of like sneaking onto an airplane without a ticket, pushing can be stimulating, scary, intoxicating. Kind like sneaking onto an airplane, it’s a bad idea. Injury sets a yoga practice back, sometimes for years. Ouch. There’s a better option than giving up, hoping for the best or cheating. The best option? Work on the project. Work on the pose. Keep doing as much as I can do until I can do more.

That’s how I can get from Los Angeles to New York.

I often point out starting in Chicago would be closer. Chicago would be cheaper, faster – no argument there. Except I’m not In Chicago. Aye. There’s the rub. I can’t start at a lotus pose if I can’t do a lotus pose. If I can’t do a half lotus I may not start there. I might start by trying to sit cross-legged on the floor. If I haven’t sat in such a style since childhood I might be starting perched on the edge of a bolster or propped up on a few blankets. If I dutifully practice yoga 1 day a week, in seven years I’ll be closer to the floor. What if I try sitting cross-legged for a few minutes every day? What if I mindfully, carefully, gingerly – with props, work every day on sitting cross-legged? Most people see improvement within 28 days. Not just any 28 days, 28 in a row. If I’m really out of shape I may see results in ten days. The more out of shape I am the faster I will see results from a daily practice. I could do yoga the rest of my life in my own time at my own pace. And so can you. The question is only, “When can you start?”

Now Y’all play nice!

Sat Nam