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I kid you not: I saw an ad this spring for a "harmonica yoga" retreat. What? How could you do yoga while playing the harmonica?
Yoga has been part of the "newest, latest" trend for a while now, with no signs of abating anytime soon. Here is a sampling of some of the offerings at studios and retreat centers around the country: Stand-up paddleboard yoga, naked yoga, yoga and kayaking, yoga for athletes, yoga and cross-country skiing, yoga and wine tasting. Rock-climbing yoga, yoga dance, yoga and salsa, the yoga of voice. Immunity-boosting yoga and yoga for the nervous system. Buddha body yoga — for the "larger-bodied" yogi, gentle yoga, detox yoga. Art and yoga, which is different from painting yoga. The yoga of food, which is different from yoga and locavore eating. Circus yoga, which is different from acro-yoga. And my favorite: Getting high: Yoga and the infinite pharmacy within, coming to Kripalu this winter. This last one came to my inbox just as I was about to make a joke about Colorado having a yoga and the bong workshop soon.
I wonder if everyone is just jumping on the yoga bandwagon. A salsa retreat might have a limited enrollment, but add the word "yoga," and all of a sudden you’ve bounced high up in Google search and doubled your enrollment. I, however, would not want to be the one doing adjustments in the naked yoga class.
If you dig a little deeper, however, it all makes sense. Yoga means union. Literally, "to yoke," as in the yoke put on oxen to help steer them and make them work. It is the uniting of the small, ego self, with the big, universal soul self.
So many things demand attention
In our world, which is so full of distractions, it’s no wonder we’re all craving something to unify us. I’ve been victim of it myself, coming home from a long day and turning on the radio to listen to the news as I do a few yoga poses. This was hardly union with anything, as I wasn’t able to listen fully to the news, and I certainly wasn’t able to pay full attention to my yoga.
So we turn ourselves over to someone else, to "please help us learn how to focus again." It is during the peak experiences that we are fully able to tune out the distractions of the world and find "one pointedness." We find that when we play sports, or make love or do yoga.
And the truth is, despite all the distractions that we profess to love — our iPhones, emails, tweets, Facebooks, not to mention the actual, physical world of family, work, pets, lovers, bills, “Breaking Bad” — we all still crave something deeper. Something more. Something … unified.
Hence, the yoga explosion of things like yoga and snowshoeing, and yoga and painting. Maybe, here, among the open pots of paints and white canvases, where we take a moment to do a triangle pose, and then turn back to the canvas we’ll find our center. Or maybe, in the middle of a lake, on a wide, stable surf-like board, we’ll be so afraid of falling into the cold water, that we focus all of our attention on the downward dog like never before.
Tame the wandering mind
It seems like just a regular old yoga class isn’t enough anymore. We’ve become inured to even the fast-paced, vinyasa flow, and even doing a hundred chaturangas doesn’t keep our mind from wandering to the cute guy on the next mat, or the huge project on our work desk that is coming dangerously close to being overdue.
So just like with any drug, we have to increase the dose to get the same benefit. The truth is, we all want to be doing less, not more. But we haven’t figured a way out of the madness. We don’t want to be left behind, whether in our careers, or in our social lives. If we don’t check in, keep up, post more, we might lose that promotion, or miss the greatest party ever. But when we do yoga, or something else that brings us to that focused place where time ceases, we feel infinitely better. We feel connected. Whole.
So we sign up. We try our best to find something that will help us lose the little self, and find the union we all want. If it takes salsa yoga to make that happen, I say, dance on!
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