If ever there was a great place to practice yoga, it's in an urban setting.
Don't get me wrong: I love taking a nice retreat somewhere beautiful in nature that allows me to sync up quickly and easily to the flow of prana coursing through my body and the world.
However, living in any metro area provides ample opportunity to really sink my teeth into the ongoing practice of yoga. Working on non-attachment? Drive 270-southbound on a weekday morning. Trying to let go of seeing people as "other" and making judgments about them? It's hard to imagine a better spot for that than being crammed up against strangers on the Metro. Attempting to withdraw the senses and let go of your attachment to them? Walk around any mall.
I often hear people (and myself, too) lament that the spiritual life is somewhere on a mountainside, in a forest, next to the ocean, etc. - in short, anywhere but where we are the present moment - and while it's true that these places possess an extra energetic bump to them, that doesn't mean our everyday lives aren't equally potent.
In yoga, we all would be considered householders. We pay our bills, kiss our children goodnight, go to work and shop at the grocery. Renunciates are those who head to the hills and cut the cord with civilization. (The image of the wizened yogi sitting in padmasana in a cave is the perfect archetype for the renunciate.) As householders, much of our practice lies nestled among the thousand things we do in that role: picking up dog shit (a humbling act, to be sure), caring for an ailing loved one, changing a tire, working through the joys and sorrows of a romantic relationship.
What I find most powerful about the householder's path is that it reaffirms my belief that all things are sacred. Any perceived separation between "sacred" and "profane" is maya - illusion. When we realize that the stack of dishes in the sink deserves the same energetic intention as the start of an asana practice, the lines delineating the self-created compartments of our lives begin to soften and eventually dissolve. Once that happens, we begin to see that we're all sacred, all the time, and that where we are right now is the holiest temple there is.
Mon, November 2, 2009
by Greg Marzullo