Yoga can be so serious. Ever look around class while people are doing backbends or pressing their quads to their bones in a standing pose? Wrinkled brows. Flared nostrils. Gripping toes. You’d think we’re all training to go into battle. Not that I have an issue with intensity-- in the right amounts and on the right occasions. But if we don’t balance passion, dedication, and hard work with lightness and ease, we may be doing warrior pose but we’re not doing yoga.
So, play. Play means different things to different people. When I was a child, play meant begging my older brother to let me cavort with him and his friends while they played fighting-soldier-shoot-out in the backyard. My brother let me play sometimes, but only if I would take on the secret code name of Mop Top.
I’ve been practicing yoga for 12 years. Over the years, my practice has changed depending on the basic conditions of my life: my age, my health, my schedule, my location, my physical and spiritual interests and needs, my romantic relationships, my relationship with chocolate chip cookies. Each time I’ve come to a point of transition in how I practice, or where I practice, or with whom I practice (and, more recently: how I teach, where I teach, and for whom I teach), I start to question why I’m doing what I am doing and what is the ultimate goal.
The questioning is uncomfortable—who wants to question a thing they love?
Local yoga teacher and writer Karen Macklin's new weekly column on SFBG explores yoga, meditation, and conscious living in the big city.
Let’s talk about yoga. Ten years ago, when it was starting to gain momentum in the US, lots of people predicted it would be a passing fad, like Richard Simmons or the Moonies. No way this thing of stretching, breathing, chanting, meditating could stick in modern society. Remember Cabbage Patch Kids? Rollerblading? Reliable health insurance? Yeah, me neither. That’s the way Western yoga was supposed to go.