I have a problem with the word yoga. I have considered calling what I do by another name because when the word yoga is uttered I never know for sure what it connotes for the person with whom I am speaking.
Yoga is not just stretching, not just hot, or flow, or hatha, or zen or deep breathing or Lululemon clothing, or brass Hanuman statues. Nor is it simply chanting “Om,” burning incense or eating vegan or sitting in Lotus pose or meditating or trendy or balancing one one’s head or doing a million downward dogs. Or even a combination of these things.
I hate to try to define yoga because it has meant so much to me.
Although I first tried yoga in a Catholic high school gym class option more than thirty years ago, it has been over the last twenty that I have consistently had a sadhana, or practice. Over that time I have contemplated giving it up once or twice (after all, there are infinitely more profitable ways to make a living, and there are infinitely more agile physical yogis than me, and a million other petty criticisms that run through my monkey mind when I let it get control of me – the management of which being but one motivator for my yoga and meditation practice . . . ). Each time, a day or two later, I found something compelling enough about the spirit and practice of yoga to not let it go. To say that it has saved my life would not be an overstatement. At times, it has been my life. It keeps my life afloat. It has informed pretty much everything I do and forms a good part of the foundation for the courage I have managed to muster to do many things that I formerly never would have considered.
My yoga mat is a refuge, but also a laboratory for my life. Bringing yogic attitudes of acceptance and patience and and ease and awareness and curiousity and zeal and renunciation and beginner’s mind, I can make mistakes on my mat and they are very unlikely to harm. And I can see what I am all about, warts and all. I, minute-by-minute, pose-by-pose, breath-by-breath and practice-to-practice, cultivate self-love for this very human human being. I see patterns in how my body moves (or doesn’t) and make conscious decisions to be with whatever I find. I can decide to embark on a path to which I am called, do my best, and then try to let go of the results, or to take equal responsibility for not choosing that path. I more clearly see where my anger or my fear or my lack of humility will take me if I bury it or allow it to randomly take control. Yoga has given fresh meaning to the religious tenets with which I was raised and has deepened my faith immeasurably. And with continued practice, the perspectives and attitudes and behavioural habits become more me, accessible in my daily life. I personally witnessed neuroplasticity in myself before it was a buzzword!
Am I perfect? Absolutely not, in any way, shape, or form, except in my human fraility and fallibility. But somehow, my practice of yoga and all it brings with it has made that all okay.
And when I teach or mentor, I share with others this very authentic, wholesome, gritty way of approaching life. I can’t help but have yoga inform what I do or how I am in the world. My students’ and clients’ very essence enriches me. It is of utmost urgency and importance therefore that mine enriches them in turn, hence my passion for learning and integrating and living my yoga.
Since 1998 or so I have spent countless hours and dollars pursuing training in so many different aspects of this endeavor called yoga. Some of the training has not been in what many would think of as yoga (insight / vipassana meditation, Ignatian Spirituality, health coaching, and spiritual direction all count, in my mind, as yoga, since, taken with a yogic attitude, they have the ultimate effect of revealing Truth and uniting together body, mind and soul with the Oneness that is). And then there is all the time I have spent practicing when I could have been doing something else – maybe amassing a fortune, developing a whopping case of heart disease or becoming an alcoholic (only just kind of kidding. . . my life has had its share of joys and sorrows and many losses and a crazy family health history, so who knows what might have happened without yoga?).
You could call my yoga a vocation or a calling. The truth of the matter is that I want to share it with everyone who has a sincere desire to explore it with me.
So, when I teach yoga, I teach like I practice. A class may not always be a flowing experience or be held in a swank physical environment (although I do try to impart these qualities to a class). Nor will it be a fashion show of the lastest yoga gear. Rest assured that I could provide these more material, commercial aspects if I thought those were the most important (I have a business degree, after all). This yoga is not about getting a great workout (although you might!) or chilling in a blissful state (a possible by-product), but does intend to give you the opportunity and the tools to hang out with yourself and others, try some new things and/or some new perspectives, stretch your limits a little or a lot, strengthen and encourage yourself and yet still keep soft edges. What it will be is real, intimate, and human, and informed by the work of master teachers, scientific researchers, mounds of personal experimentation and insight, and infused with passion and love. My aim is for you to be armed and ready to embark upon your own love affair with yoga, at class and at home. I truly have the best interests of fellow yogis in mind.
Does this answer Why Yoga? And why yoga with Lonnie? I hope so. If not, please contact me and I would love to delve deeper with you.