This morning I got myself to yoga class.

I have a hard time with making time for yoga (and anything else that might be deemed “self-improvement”). When I make my mental list of priorities, I have a tendency to put such activities at the bottom of the list. And then, too, I have a fear of becoming a Hollywood cliché – the self-indulgent woman in the sunglasses, totally obsessed with her own navel.

On the other hand, whenever I do go to yoga class, I find it extremely centering, relaxing, and reassuring. I don’t necessarily think it makes me a better person, but I don’t think it makes me self-indulgent, either. We have to take up time in our lives doing something, so some of it might as well be something that makes us feel better.

I have another motivation for going to yoga class, and that is my health. Evidence seems to point to the health benefits of yoga practice for everything from reducing high blood pressure to strengthening the immune system. Being a cancer survivor, I am especially interested in strengthening my immune system. That alone may be justification enough for taking time for taking this class twice a week.

But isn’t it interesting that I’m writing about it in an effort to defend my choice. There is a little voice inside that just hammers away at me saying things like, “You are so selfish”, and “What are you accomplishing, can you tell me that”? and “Who are you kidding? You can’t do yoga! You’re not spiritual enough” and “Even if you were spiritual enough, you would never be a) strong enough b) graceful enough c) persistent enough”. And, “Don’t you realize how many really ‘important’ things you could be doing – for someone else – instead of this”? And the ever popular, “What a waste of money”! There are probably a lot more such statements that go on just below conscious awareness.

My yoga teacher says that you can “invite that critical little voice in to tea”, instead of trying to suppress her. He says you can have a dialog with the “shadow side”. That rather than try to get rid of all those negative messages, we should embrace them as a part of ourselves. The idea is that if you try to put a lid on those thoughts and feelings, they’ll just grow underground and become more powerful. That makes sense to me, and yet it’s very hard to get my mind wrapped around the idea of “embracing” such a nasty persona.

But maybe I could answer that voice by saying that there’s room in my life for all of it. For being a good friend, a caring daughter, a loving sister, a wife to my husband, a writer, a dreamer, a citizen of the world, and a student of yoga. There’s room in my life for a lot more than that, too. But – remember that wonderful old game, Monopoly? You can’t even begin to play until you “feed the kitty”. The “kitty” is the fuel. Without that, you can’t even spin the dice. So in life, we also have to feed the kitty! If you starve the kitty, you won’t be any good to anyone!

May I suggest, dear reader, that you, too find some way to “feed the kitty”, whether it’s a quiet walk, reading a good book, taking a swim, or gardening. Or maybe, taking a yoga class. Namaste.

© 2005, Robin Munson

 Category: Robin's Nest

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