Madonna, Yoga and Me
I am sure I did yoga before my teen idol, Madonna. When I took my first class she had her big hit "Material Girl" out at the time...How come I am still in Yoga 101???
My first encounter with yoga came during my high school days. We had to choose amongst various "unusual" activities to "experience" once a week after school for one semester. They offered sailing, scuba-diving, rock climbing, you name it they had it. Of course, "yoga" was on the list. And yes....knowing me, who values life more than anything else in this world (my excuse for being timid) I eventually ended up with the ultimate choice....yoga.
Looking around the school gymnasium, there were less than a dozen of us. We did some stretches, twisting, bending forwards and backwards, "salute to the sun" (what a beautiful name) and voila..."savasana"...everyone's favorite. Lying down on my mat, with my eyes closed, I could hear deep snoring from my mates. Yoga was an easy exercise, very relaxing indeed. That was my first impression of yoga at age 15.
My second encounter with yoga came during a business trip to Japan, and by this time Madonna was really into yoga. Being a gym-bunny and a workaholic at that time, I would squeeze in a morning 6:30 gym session before going into the office. I was invited to join a yoga class at the fitness center. I thought to myself, right, it's the trendy thing to do now, isn't it? I must try it out again. But as the class progressed, I noticed the "ojiisan and obasan" next to me were already entering into pretzel shapes while I was still struggling to touch my toes. Looking into the mirror, I imagined I saw a 60 year old me, trying hard to reach for my toes, struggling to keep my arms straight, forcing myself to make a 15?angle stretch to the sides (did I move at all?) – it was mission impossible. I realized I was as stiff as a stick. Oh dear.....yoga is not that easy after all, it might actually mean something more.
Now that Madonna has already done her nth world tour and become a yoga "guru", I have also begun a regular yoga practice...here in Taiwan. What is the magic of yoga? Is it through the different asanas and breathing that our happy "hormones" get released out into our bodies and run wildly within us?
During each practice, as I place my awareness on my breath, the poses, my focal point, and my alignment – there is no space left for my mind to wander. All the thoughts I had clamoring in my head during the day melt away as I concentrate on my breath. I listen only for the calls from my teacher and feel the energy of my classmates. I don't know whether I will ever do a proper set of the primary series in this life, but I know being there is more important than scoring a perfect 10. I feel so happy and alive after each class, I know I have found my life long companion.
Now through regular practice, I have found both my strength and my afflictions. Through these challenges I started to recognize the benefits of this holistic science of mind, body and spirit. My body has become stronger, my mind has become calmer. I can feel myself evolving. Yoga has taught me to listen to my own voice, observe my body, to drop my judgments, and to focus on the present moment. Most of all, it has taught me to be grateful for this body and for this life.
Thank you to all my teachers...you are my guidance and inspiration....
Thank you Space for providing such a great environment ...where people often come here for a stretch, and leave with a lot more.
And thank you Madonna for practicing yoga....
"Knowing others is intelligence,
Knowing yourself is true wisdom" Lao Tse.
May all of us find true wisdom and live happily ever after.