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March 2011 Yoga and The Present Moment

Dear Yoga Friends,

In a yoga class a few weeks ago something happened that is still fresh in my mind. A cell phone rang. This, in and of itself, is rather unremarkable. With the increased pace of life and communication, we have come to accept this, and we readily forgive one another for forgetting to turn our phones off. However, in this case, a student actually answered the phone and took the call. The student walked out of the room, leaving the door open, voice still audible to the rest of us, oblivious to the impact on the yoga class.

Except in situations where a doctor is on call or a spouse or significant other may go into labor at any moment, all of which are relative rarities, this is the first time this has come up for me. Of course I can quickly go to anger, which I did, but within moments the anger faded and sadness replaced it. Eventually the sadness moved to forgiveness and a renewed commitment on my part to treasure and guard the experience of the moment.

Yoga, more than ever, offers us an escape, not from reality, but to reality. The beauty and special qualities of the present moment are more relevant than ever. We have tools at our disposal that allow us to be interrupted and to interrupt others at a higher level of frequency than ever before. These tools give us unprecedented access to information, but at the same time, they have made it much more challenging to simply be. Ironically, the perceived reality of text messages to be answered, emails to be replied to, phone calls to be answered, checking whether messages have arrived, web searches to be made instantly after a moment's thought triggers them, etc., often trumps the true reality of billowing clouds in the sky, rain on one's face, a friend in need of attention, the breath, and the miracle of life that is every moment.

Yoga is one proven means to escape to reality. Yoga does not corner the market in this regard, but it has some significant advantages over climbing glaciers, bungee jumping, and other activities that require focusing on the moment. Yoga requires no special equipment (though the marketers have moved in heavily here with many yoga products). 99% is still just getting onto the floor and doing a pose. More importantly, aside from its therapeutic and healing properties, yoga has the spiritual purpose of directing one's mind towards a true reality, where you can let go of your worries, many of which are manufactured by your mind, and become more focused on what is actually going on with your body, your breath, and your mind, in a context where you are working at a perceived limit. In this way, yoga absorbs you in something larger and more fundamental than day-to-day concerns.

What does this have to do with dog pose? Well, let's do dog pose right now and find out! Hope to see you soon in the moment...



Chad Balch