Growing up in rural Vermont I am accustomed to long car rides. In my adulthood I have taken more random rides down backroads than burn turns in high school. I enjoy re-tracing footsteps and the constant reminder that the same journey is the never the same twice. Yoga is like that for me. I never thought I could find so much joy and make so much progress by practicing consistently the same series of postures over and over again. Sounds boring, right? Well, have you ever found yourself driving down a familiar road for the 4 millionth time and hugging that same tight corner suddenly, only to gasp, star-struck, you see the most beautiful sunset of your life, the same mountains in the distance more majestic than ever and that same old hay field in the perfect golden glow? Yea, it’s like that.
Yoga is concentration. The Ashtanga series of asanas (postures) is a great reminder that the physical result is not the goal. If you embark on learning the series in full, from primary to advanced, you are quickly reminded that nothing but focus and devotion will get you through, or as my friend Heather says, effort and surrender. It is an incredible goal to set for one lifetime.
So sometimes I get in my car and I’m not sure why I’m there but I drive. Yesterday I found myself driving down McCullough Hill Rd (if you don’t know it, you won’t until you meet someone who does) and I found myself wondering why I’ve developed this habit. I wave at the guys weed whacking the side of the road. The road is nice, freshly grated. I’m in transit but feel completely at ease, like I am exactly where I am supposed to be… That’s what it is! I love the journey, I love to travel. The destination is only a dream until it is realized, until it is experienced, and then it becomes reality.
It’s the same with yoga. Bliss feels different each day. Today I’m lying with my feet on a chair and the cool, post-rain breeze is blowing through my window, this is bliss. Yesterday I spent hours on my paddle board in the 80 degree summer sun amidst the glowing green mountains, that was bliss. Yoga teaches us to remain grounded through the inevitable changes (or curves, potholes, flat tires, etc) that we face in life. You will undoubtedly experience complete transformation in this lifetime, at least once, if you haven’t already. Rather than be fearful, seek the bliss. Movement makes it easier to recognize the sweet moments of stillness.
As I cross the bridge off of McCullough Hill I can hear the brook rushing beneath from all the rain. Until now I have never stopped to watch the water here. So I did. And my journey ended that day as it always does, in a moment of quiet, all by myself, with my eyes closed, and my heart bursting with trust that everything will be OK. As I sit here and write this my heart feels that once more; the more we experience love, trust and fullness, the more it is reality rather than a dream, or destination. There are lots of roads to take, try taking one well-traveled by a good friend or maybe a turn into the unknown has been whispering at you with every pass by. Whatever you choose, practice. Try it again, change the music, try it again, roll down all the windows, try it again, bring a friend, try it again, eat a snack, try it again, stay hydrated, try it again… Just enjoy the ride each time.