Well, here I am: 16 years later, and I've taken yoga classes off and on over the years. And still loved it. Except for one teacher who I couldn't really quite believe was real. She told us, "Everyone has India inside of themselves." (She wasn't Indian, and had never been there.) I asked her after class, "What about Switzerland? Does everyone have Switzerland inside of themselves too?"And she just smiled and told me that India is a state of mind, and you can have it or not have it. She had it.
She was more than a bit distracting during some of the poses in class. When I'd just want to breathe and calm my mind, she'd be encouraging us, "That's it! Just reach up, up, up, like a great big flower. Can you feel it? Ahhhh! That's it! Stretch up to the sun! Feel its warmth! Feel its heat pulsing and its rays warming your skin. Drink it in! Stretch, little flowers!" A bit too much for me.
So that was not such a worshipful feeling, to be mocking her in my head while trying to get something out of the yoga class. But I've had other teachers who have made me think and believe and dig deeper inside myself and have pointed the way. And the beauty of it was that they weren't pointing to their way, but helped me point deeper into my way. Am I making any sense, or am I sounding like India-flower-yoga-teacher?
Anyway, I was reminded again this evening of how worshipful yoga can be. With my body stretching, hand raised up, my gaze following it, I can feel like I'm doing the best thing I can be with this temple-body I've been given. Tree pose is a favourite too - with hands together above my head in prayer position, my foot rooted into the ground, my vision focused on a single point in front of me. It can feel like genuine worship.
"The whole person, with all his senses, with both mind and body,
needs to be involved in genuine worship. "
- Jerry Kerns