I have practiced yoga for the past fifteen years, the last nine at Yoga East in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This period, from my late 40s to my mid-60s, has been eventful: the end of one career and journey into another; a house move and the beginning of the empty-nest phase of parenting; the death of both my and my husband’s remaining parents and a six-month separation that seemed a near-death of our marriage; his retirement; and another career change for me. These events along with many others have created the context for my journey with yoga, which I think of as a kind of pilgrim’s progress to adulthood.
The journey has not been about yoga but about facing and moving beyond the baggage of childhood and youth and learning how to deal with the present on its own terms. Yoga has not been the only source of support by any means. Study of Buddhism has been an essential accompaniment. Other spiritual reading and self-help books, readings and teaching from my professional fields of organizational learning and dialogue and a couple of rounds of therapy, as well as conversations with family members and friends who have, at different times, been my teachers, have all been important. I would like to work through how these different sources have interacted and how (if at all) they have become integrated in a consistent perspective.
At the same time, yoga has been central in a couple of ways I would like to explore. One of these is the tangible fact of regular practice. My first yoga teacher conveyed to me the aspiration of daily practice. I have held that as the standard even through times when it was far from the reality, and it is stronger than ever now that my definition of “practice” has expanded beyond the physical postures. The other is also tangible but subtler. It is the body-mind connection, specifically the way in which the subconscious is embodied and accessible through the body. The combination of physical movement with aware breathing in yoga practice has made it, for me, a powerful tool for working through the physical to the psychological and vice versa. In this blog-journal I would like to reflect on the experience that led me to this realization and the benefit I have gained from it along the way.