What does it mean, “to love”? Usually we associate the word with living creatures and feelings and the actions that transpire between them. A parent feeding an infant. An old man walking his also aging dog daily. A tribute to a particularly valued teacher. But “love” can describe any fierce attachment that goes beyond words, any passion that is dictated by the heart. I have written on love of one’s work, and will address love of one’s home and love of landscape in later posts.
Today, I write of love of an activity that sparks a passion to experience it. Although “work” may be involved or even required, the activity need not take great effort nor need it be remunerative. Making or listening to music comes to mind. Playing ball or riding a horse. Creating art or joining a theater troupe. Whatever permits one to enter what Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow”.
For me, one passion is yoga. I love my yoga practice. Moments on the mat – or meditating any time and anywhere – always shift my energy, bringing me back to a deeper, more centered, more generous place. Reminding me that I am not alone.
On June 21st, the “Journée Mondiale du Yoga”, hundreds of people of all ages spread out on yellow mats beneath the pillars of the Eiffel Tower. In 2014 this Worldwide Day of Yoga had been dedicated to personal and global wellbeing. Under the umbrella of l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, 177 countries had committed to the discipline that, according to the last line of the Madame Figaro article, was committed to peace and promoting resilience against the evils of a lack of communication.
In today’s world filled with stimulation, confusion and noise, yoga promotes a return to one’s own heart, the truths accessible most easily and completely through a partnership between mind and body. Personally, it has brought me a much deeper appreciation for my own truths, skills which I can call on in pursuing my dreams, and countless perspectives on energies that connect – and separate – us to and from each other.
I adore moments of yoga practice outside, especially when in the presence of others who are stretching and listening. Some events are large and well organized – like the Journée Mondiale du Yoga above or an afternoon introducing a new studio to a community. Others are more spontaneous, easily moved indoors should weather intervene to make outdoor practice untenable.
Each June my own studio, Yogaworks Westchester, offers a free class to all who come on a grassy hill overlooking the Hudson River. This photo celebrating the Summer Solstice captures the magic of the moments. Yet we need not have a picture perfect day or place.
Yoga is remarkably versatile. As Christine Chen describes in Happy-Go-Yoga postures and poses and practices from yoga can move from home to work to travel to family events. They can soothe the introvert like me who becomes jangled in crowds and restore peace when the stimulation of a store or exhibit or event overwhelms. They can help us increase our enthusiasm when we are dragging and temper it when it is destructively irrational.
They can help us align our hearts with something broader than our marketing lists or deadlines and help us remember what matters as we journey through this lifetime. Above all, it can remind us that Love is Real.