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Monday, March 22, 2010

Dude, Where's My Yoga?

Dude, Where’s My Yoga?
This is the question that pops into my head the moment after...
  • I overreact, or appropriately react, to one of my children’s infractions (or just plain kid moments) in a decidedly un-Yogic volume
  • I react badly to the drivers misbehaving on the road 
  • or my body tenses when I see a driver on the phone or texting behind the wheel (especially when my van is kid-full)
  • the conversation takes a gossipy turn and I find myself participating
  • I judge a situation unfairly
Dude, where’s my yoga?  
I’ve only become tolerant of the word, dude, in my early 40s.  

When talking about our experiences driving with our kids in the car, a very good friend of mine told me that she says “Dude” in lieu of dropping the “F” bomb.  
While I used to avoid dropping the “D” word, I now find it a satisfying substitute for flipping the bird.  I know a deep cleansing breath would probably have a similar effect, ending the need to drop any [insert letter of choice] word or extending of any middle digits.  It’s just that sometimes when I come to that particular clarity, the moment has already passed.  

That’s why I practice.
My practice, on the mat, bubbles when I meet the metaphoric Dude poses I used to want to avoid that I now look forward to exploring.   The Yoga reveals itself in familiar moments, off the mat, when I make fresh choices.
Several years ago (before I ever stepped foot on a Yoga mat), around my brother’s dining room table, we were reminiscing various childhood memories and laughing at our youthful antics.  There was a moment when the energy shifted slightly, though still light in nature it held the air of wisdom about to be imparted.  
He said, through pursed lips, that he remembered watching one of my sisters “bait” me often.  Under his breath he would chant, “Don’t take the bait.  Don’t take the bait.”  Nine times out of ten I would take the bait; I was predictable enough for her to know which buttons to push to successfully bait me every time.  
While it would have been extremely helpful to know that’s what was happening at the time it was happening, it was equally as valuable to learn it when I did.  I now had the language and context to deal directly and make better choices, without resorting to habitual behavior.
Since that dining room table chat, my whole relationship with that sister markedly improved.  We were always close, but from that moment forward I had a more active role in keeping our relationship equal and healthy.  All I needed was the awareness which led to the language which, in turn, became mindful (and compassionate) action. 
This lesson surfaces when I find myself in similar situations of feeling like I’m dangling from a hook.  Regular Yoga practice provides me with a portable context for almost any situation.  There are still those moments when I mindlessly revert to form before remembering to breathe; but more often than not I find myself unrolling my mental mat when presented with a challenging moment.
Yes.  I still get annoyed by ignorant behavior, small-minded moments and a lifetime of acquired pet peeves.  But, maybe I’m a little less annoyed and find humor more often and more quickly.  I am certainly more mindful and able to step back, reassess or let go when necessary.  
So when I ask, “Dude, where’s my Yoga?”  I already know the answer. 

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