After work today, I went to a yoga class. Chakras. Incense sticks. The photograph of a woman whose name I can’t remember, a candle in front of that, and us repeating 16 times, “Mother, I am the Spirit”, and various other affirmations. Our hands guiding the Kundalini up to our heads. Something like that.
I know pretty much zero about yoga and its context and meaning, so please forgive me if you read this and cringe because I say silly things – I plead ignorance. And by going to a yoga class, I actually try to make an effort to understand this better.
I’m not big on chakras and energy flows and all that. And while I initially react with quite a bit of scepticism, I try to overcome this – I’m there, I listen, I’m as open as I’m able to be, I’m willing to find something meaningful to me in this (I’m pretty sure yoga is not the devil’s work, as I was taught in church as a child!!). But a concern remains in me that I could lose focus on what I have in my relationship with God by following practices that teach that “it’s all in your mind”. The only relationship in this seems to be with the teacher. I feel slightly uncomfortable with that. Until God reminds me again that nothing can separate me from Her love… I believe in grace. And grace may describe many things, maybe even the experience of “thoughtless awareness” through kundalini yoga…
So I come, I listen, I try.
A lot of what this lady says (we watched her talk on video) sounded good. And still.
I don’t like having somebody’s photograph in front of me in a spiritual practice – it’s like praying to just another person.
And I find it strange that one of the things we repeat to ourselves is, “Yes, I am my own guru”, but we look at her photograph while we say that and point one hand to her to channel her energy or whatever it’s called. Does that make sense? How can I be the guru if she is the guru?
I find it strange. I find the whole thing strange. Of course I do. It’s new to me. This practice is based on concepts and a culture that I know nothing about. This is just as strange to me as the gospel of Luke would be to someone who has grown up Hindu in India and has no concept of European culture and Christian religious practice. Quite a few aspects of Christian religious practice are strange to me… (exorcism, anyone…?)
The question is, will I give yoga, and this kind of yoga, time to become familiar and meaningful to me? Does it only take time and perseverance to develop a meaningful spiritual practice? Can it be helpful to me at all if I don’t feel an affinity for it?
After an introduction, and after going through the affirmations, we were offered to have someone “work on us”. It wasn’t explained what that meant, so I hesitated but then asked one of the people about it who seemed to know what was going on. Basically, you sit and relax, palms open on your lap, and somebody “goes through” your chakras and checks which ones need a bit of attention. Whatever that means.
I don’t get it. I like to understand what I’m doing. And it’s particularly important to me in my spiritual life – I don’t even kneel or bow with everyone else in a Catholic mass when I don’t know why I’m doing it. And I don’t feel as if being there tonight made anything clear to me about what I was doing. I feel like I’m taking risks with my spiritual life if I follow a practice I don’t understand. It feels irresponsible. And I tend to trust my gut in these things.
Also, I do have issues anytime anyone tells me that something is “the only way” to clear your mind, reach the divine, whatever. I do not believe that ever to be true (neither about yoga nor about Christianity, by the way).
The woman was talking a lot about what a “joyful” experience her kind of yoga is. And I’d love to experience that. Who wouldn’t? But who was joyful in that room tonight? Calmer, maybe. But joyful?
I would very much like to find a more joyful way to live my life. I’m not sure this is it…either because of my inner obstacles, or because of the teacher. Or because of what it is I am taught. Who knows.
Joyful, to me, is communion with God. And maybe that’s what she means. But it’s not what I get in this practice. To me, tonight was some kind of relaxation exercise. It was not a spiritual experience. No connection to the divine. Maybe that’s my concern. I did not feel that connection.
She uses a lot of Christian vocabulary to describe her ideas. To her, the Kundalini IS the Mother IS the Holy Ghost. The “tree of life” is comparable for her to the chakras in the body, etc. She quotes the bible in ways I would quote the sacred texts of other religions – with some lack of understanding of what she is reading. To me, her way is a strange way of reading it but I get what she tries to say with the images she chooses. So, I can listen on an intellectual level. Even on that level, I don’t really want to engage with what I hear. I’d rather learn about yoga in words that are not confusing one religious tradition with another.
Alright. So I did go explore a bit tonight. I learned something new, I experienced something new. I’ll learn more in time. Both about yoga and Hinduism, and about my own reactions to it. For now, I return “home”, to the way in which I know how to pray, to God who is always here with me – and whose presence is simple, and true, and needs no explanations.