I went to a new yoga studio yesterday, and found the class I took there quite refreshing. It wasn't so much that the teacher was super amazing - she really wasn't - as that the class she taught was so calm and therapeutic. Of course, there were some challenging poses; any yoga pose is challenging when you bring your full physical and mental attention to it. But there was also meditation to start and end class, and a feeling of calm and sensitivity in the room that made its way into my mind and body. I was able to be present in a way that I have not been in a yoga class (or anywhere else) in quite some time.
The studio I normally go to holds one-hour classes that are incredibly intense from a physical perspective. They are crowded - mats are laid down edge to edge like the patches of a room-sized quilt - and it's hard not to feel as if you're at some kind of yoga revival. I don't mean to be overly critical or dismissive of this approach: it draws a huge crowd and is definitely an intense workout. I'm just not sure that an intense workout is what I'm really looking for from yoga anymore.
What am I looking for, and am I going to find it in yoga? I'm not sure, although I have been consistently drawn to yoga for ten years now, though it's never really found a comfortable niche in my life. I have always been drawn to its spiritual and philosophical aspects, but never enough so to really dedicate myself to their exploration beyond reading a popular book or two. I suppose I'm a yoga commitment-phobe: I want the benefits of a cursory relationship with yoga - strength, flexibility, a toned body - without all the intellectual and spiritual work of delving into its literary and meditative teachings.
Maybe this speaks to a larger issue I struggle with: a hesitancy to believe thoroughly in anything. I try to avoid dogma in its many forms, even when disguised by things I believe in, like nature and science. Does this hesitancy keep me from fully investing myself in a course of study and spiritual development? Or am I simply, as I sometimes think, just lazy? Am I just satisfied enough with the way things stand that I don't feel any need to dedicate a lot of time to profoundly changing my life - a life, I must say, that I'm very happy with?
Whatever the case, the cursory relationship I've had so far with yoga no longer seems to be enough, and in some way, I desire to go deeper. This may mean facing some of my own assumptions head-on: after all, I realize there is plenty of room for critical thought when one is engaged in studying philosophy or in developing a spiritual practice. It's just a matter of owning up to the rigorous work that represents, instead of brushing the whole thing off as dogma and therefore not worthy of my time and serious contemplation. It's just a matter of deciding to invest - an always risky, often rewarding, proposition.