Friday, November 19, 2010

Yoga School Dropout by Lucy Edge

Before I give my review of Yoga School Dropout by Lucy Edge, I need to give an important disclaimer: I do not have a deep burning desire to travel to India and sleep on uncomfortable beds while studying with yoga masters.

There, I said it. Not feeling a need to travel to India to explore my yoga very well may mean I’m not a good yogi. Or perhaps, I too, am a yoga school dropout.

However, I did love reading about Lucy’s travels through India and her search for a guru to turn her into a yoga goddess.

Her search starts out quite rocky with the superficial students in Mysore having pool-side contests for the best body, well-funded Westerners spending their days perfecting their asanas and their evenings listening to Christina Aguilera and trying to hook up with the winner of that days best body contest.

She moves from yoga school to yoga school, stopping long enough to spend time with the Hugging Mother which leaves her feeling less than loved, a visit to the home of Osho the “Sex Guru” which required an HIV test and resulted in nothing more than faking a tantric orgasm, and a visit to the ‘yoga capital of the world’ Rishikesh only to find out she was months early for the famous yoga festival.

At one point, while wearing her OM Yoga t-shirt she brought with her from home, a fellow student points out that Lucy is doing nothing more than shopping.  Shopping for trinkets to bring home, shopping for Indian clothes that she thinks a real yoga goddess would wear and shopping for a way to buy her to enlightenment.

Lucy begins her quest as an ex-London advertising executive in search of what she thinks will make her happy – 18% body fat, ability to perform advances poses and of course, a yoga god-man to compliment her life.

She begins with hours of physical practice which result in the much coveted lower body fat, but also an injured cervical disc in her neck. Her travels eventually lead her to Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM) where the asana practice is so slow she says “my granny could have done it”.

But it’s exactly this slower practice, study of the Yoga Sutras and yoga philosophy that allows her to make the most progress and find her “aha moment” of realization.

Her teacher tells her that “asana is not a performance, asana is what happens in the posture and afterwards. A circus man can do many postures – this is not asana”.

Lucy realizes she has been giving only about 1% sthiram  (stability, alertness and attention) and sukham (remaining light and comfortable in the posture). Once her attitude changed, then Lucy began to change.

“Change occurs only when we become what we truly are, not when we are trying to be something we are not.”

Once Lucy accepts herself for who she is, then she becomes a real Yoga Goddess.

A Yoga Goddess practices her yoga off the mat as well as on. She knows yoga is a state of mind that helps us choose wisely in life. Her enlightenment happens when she knows that “what I did was…less important than how I did it”.

If someday Mary Poppins flies in with her magic umbrella to care for my children, and perhaps Powerball pays my mortgage and funds my trip well enough that I can afford the luxury bedroom with hot water and a real pillow, I will also take a yoga journey through India.

But for now, I’ll practice my healing asana on the mat in my living room, and remember to choose wisely in life as a way of practicing yoga off the mat.

Just like Lucy, being a Yoga School Dropout makes me a better yogi.

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