The act of making a fool of oneself in order to humbly be reborn into the real world.
That about sums it up.
Now, for real, yoga is the most intense, wonderful, beautiful, peaceful, challenging, organic thing I've ever encountered. But, I am not Rodney Yee. I am not Cindy Crawford. I am Amelie Miltenberger, babysitter extraordinare, and I have an imperfect body and less balance than your average Tibetan monk. Thus, yoga does something a little different for me than what it does for my yogi: it humbles me.
Every Friday morning my best friend Lindsey and I roll out of bed around 9:30, pull on something colorful and flexible, throw our hair up into messy buns and show up to our little yoga class downtown for our weekly dose of community organized exercise. Our instructor is a young woman around our age, who could probably do something cooler than Jackie Chan. 'Nuff said. We have girl crushes on her. We try to practice Sanskrit to each other during the week so that when Friday rolls around we have't forgotten everything we learned the week before. Luckily, lots of the poses are called things like "sage" and "cobra," words that are quintessentially known as yoga words. Other phrases like "uttinasina" and "shavasina" take more practice. <(OK, I def just threw those last two in there to brag about my sanskrit skillz, so don't beat yourself up about it).
So maybe we know what the words mean (sometimes), but that doesn't make them effortless. On the contrary, I find that one of the most beneficial things I get out of yoga is just knowing I tried something that a few months ago I would have just pointed and laughed at. Mmm, OK, I still have to stifle grins and cough over my own laughter sometimes in class. When we do things that remind me of my 6-year-old ballet class ("crab crawl" anyone?) how can I resist? It's utterly ridiculous but miraculously healing.
That said and all goofy poses aside, yoga can be a very controversial topic. It's deeply embedded in the Hindu religion and as such I do think there's a certain air of caution that needs to be taken with the class. Lindsey's a great accountability partner and she has caught me in the middle of a few close calls. Sometimes my hippie ways sway my tolerance levels to accept things that I should not receive or at least should question. If it weren't for a good community around me, I daresay I'd be living in a yurt in Nepal with a pet newt named Raj. Having said that, it MIGHT be a total exaggeration..
'Alls' I'm saying is for me yoga is more about a way to have fun and be challenged than a way for me to spiritualize my earth suit. And I like it. So Sanskrit that!
P.S. Just gotta say how funny it is that every single time I went to type "yoga" it came out as "yoda" and I had to go back and change it.
... although I have no doubt that at times yoda can be a very controversial topic too...