Friday, August 22, 2008

BlissQuest: Get Off Your Mat!

Outdoor art at the ChalkWalk at this year's Celebrate Erie.

Listening to: Something very new -- and loving the combo of strings and a bit of punkish drum.

Today's Bliss Formula: I'm a bit stuck in my mouth today -- yesterday, they put the largest, thickest wire that they have on my top braces and it feels like my teeth are trying to fall out and take my brain with them. So my bliss today is the existence of Advil!

If you've done Gaiam yoga videos, you've probably been impressed with the settings. Rodney Yee is often in Hawaii, doing yoga right next to the ocean. Patricia Walden does yoga in the desert. Gurmukh does it in some Indian inspired, rain forest looking environment.

Enough eye candy to distract you from the yoga itself, really.

I'm not complaining there. I love these settings. I love the sound of the ocean in the middle of winter in the middle of my yoga space.

For the summer solstice this year, I recommended one way to celebrate was to take your yoga outside. Greet the rising sun with sun salutations. As they were meant to be done.

And this week's interview was with an eco-yogi who teaches people about the connection between doing yoga and caring for the earth.

In that interview I mused about the lack of yoga teachers doing what Milissa is doing. The mat itself is supposed to be viewed as a metaphor for the rest of your life. And it should also be seen as a metaphor for your place on this planet -- literally. How you behave on this mat, the values you bring to it...those should be the behaviors and values you take away from it.

When you step off the mat, you are stepping into life on this troubled planet. What do you do about it?

I think a good place to start with all of this would be to get off that mat by doing yoga outside. If you are on a beach or in a park, you don't even need a mat between you and the ground. Sand and grass will hold your feet in place, hold you stable, during all your poses.

Think about that -- sand and grass will hold you stable.

Doing sitting meditation at the roots of a large tree will root you even deeper. Or stand next to the tree and do tree pose and let her roots help you feel your own strength.

If you are in a city, listen beyond the noise of cars and people to the ever present sounds of nature. Yoga outside can teach you to hear differently, which can help get you out of an attachment to "crazy-busy."

If you feel too conspicuous doing yoga outside by yourself, perhaps get a small group of friends to do it. And don't be surprised when people ask to join in! This is really the power of yoga to foster community.

Of course, you don't have to be doing formal asana to be doing yoga outdoors. Yoga is a practice and we should, really, be practicing 24/7. If the whole world is your mat, every step you take is yoga. Yoga is in every step, to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh.

This is easier said than done: the belief system embedded in yoga is difficult and challenging.

Are we challenging ourselves enough or are we getting too comfortable on our mats just like we are often too comfortable in our material lives?


Pink Heels said...

I wish that I had known this event was occurring. I would have drove down to see it!

differenceayearmakes said...

What I love about tai ji is its connection to nature, after all it is based upon Taoist principles which is nature based as are most ancient beliefs. I love that it is a moving meditation - teaching me how to take that state found in sitting meditation into my everyday, which is more active. And tai ji is commonly practiced outside - I love to practice in my own backyard, it just feeeels right. Because of the storm Fay there's been this wind blowing through trees that just seems to accompany my moves. You hear about the Chinese practicing in parks each morning, it is not uncommon to see people on beaches in the early morning.

I'm relearning a lot I've forgotten as I take up practice again. I find I'm asking myself sooo frquently "Why did you stop doing that?", and realizing how many things I've dropped, without knowing why - or maybe remembering why - or maybe there wasn't a reason. Ah, well I'm rambling again, must be because I've not been feeling good these last few days, some stomach pain of some kind or other. But I keep practicing my tai chi.

I think taking your yoga outside is a great idea. When I did yoga - I know, I know, another thing I've dropped - I'd often practice sun salutations outside in my backyard facing the sun.

differenceayearmakes said...

I thought you mind find an article I just run into interesting - I've posted it to my blog. Synchronicity at work.

Ecoyogi said...

I'm so with you on this! I love to get off the mat and live my yoga. Being outside, if possible, is such a reminder of our interconnectedness with all beings. And it doesn't need to be doing formal yoga postures. I love to let my body's movements reflect what I observe--either visually or a felt sense of the energy of a plant or tree or water or rocks. Thanks for keeping this conversation in the forefront Christine! You really are a soul sister.

nirvana diva said...

even out on your own deck is a great way to be doesnt need to be exotic or too far from home!

blisschick said...

rebecca, don't think of it as things you've "dropped," but rather, things you've "tried" or "experienced." It's wonderful to try new things, but that doesn't mean they have to stick. You and yoga, perhaps, weren't meant to be...but you and tai chi, that sounds like true love! :)