Friday, September 16, 2005

The wild, wild west

Yeehaw, Yoga Chickie IS a western girl, after all. Someone once asked me, WHY the name? So, indeed, why the name? Well, if you know me in person, you know why the name. It's just me. What it sounds like, it is, and I am.

I have a daily yoga practice, but you'll never find me living on an ashram (hell, I get snitty if I go to a hotel that doesn't have a marble bath). Sometimes I take my kids to Burger King, and sometimes, I indulge in a junior whopper (without the bread). I love reading Namarupa, but I prefer the photos in Yoga Journal. I studied 19th Century transcendentalism and 20th Century Post-Modernism in college, but I really enjoy watching reruns of Friends. I am introspective and focus a great deal of my attention on improving myself as a person every day of my life, and yet I am every bit as vain as my plastic surgeries would suggest (right mom?).

I am a Jew who studies Buddhism (a member of the Jews for Buddha, along with several others with whom I studied at Om) and who eats shellfish. I am a Jewish female who doesn't cover her head in synagogue or sit apart from the men. I have never visited a "mikvah" (a place where Jewish women on their moon are required to go in order to "become" blessed and clean). I am an intellectual snob who reads all the gossip rags. I went to Strollercize when my first child was born, not for the exercise, but to socialize. I went to the rarified "New Mothers' Luncheons" at Hi-Life, but breast fed my baby over Citrus Chicken Salad and maintained a California-Hippie-esque family bed while my babies were nursing (each one, over a year).

Most pertinently, I am a yogini and an Ashtangi, and yet I live in the West, and I practice within the parameters of my Western life. I indulge in consumerism, blatant, lavish consumerism, despite the fact that yoga requires non-greed. I drive an SUV, which eats gas like Pac-man on speed, despite that yoga requires non-harm. I tell my kids that the tooth fairy left them the money under their pillow, despite that yoga requires non-lying. I study myself (svadyaya), as yoga requires, but sometimes I allow myself to indulge in a bit of denial.

And all of these paradoxes, I acknowledge, and I embrace.

From the moment we are born, we begin to define ourselves. And I believe that many of our struggles come from the curve balls life throws us that challenge our definitions of ourselves. You think you're a great student, but you get a C on a paper. Struggle ensues. You think you're a great artist, but you can't sell your canvas. Struggle. You think you're a healthy person, but you get sick. Struggle. You have this image in your mind of yourself as a 25 year old, but you grow older. Struggle. Midlife crisis. Porsche. Divorce.

In my opinion, a healthier way to live is to recognize where the self-defining becomes self-limiting and to embrace the paradoxes that we inevitably experience. I don't have to "go back to Bikram" just because I don't practice Ashtanga EXACTLY the way Guruji teaches it in Mysore. I can practice Ashtanga to the extent that it makes sense within the parameters of my life.

We all do it. Some of us are more willing to admit it to ourselves. And some of us are simply more willing to admit it in a public forum.

YC

7 comments:

Susan said...

People come to ashtanga for different reasons, the physical workout, the deeper aspects, and as a spiritual tradition.
The reasons you come will inform the way you practice the eight limbs.
And as yogis we need to respect each others paths.
Not that you don't, I was just saying.....

yoga chickie said...

I agree. Many people come for one reason (for many, it is physical), and they stay for another reason (for many, the spiritual). I know I did. Even so, we all take it as we find it, you know?

Any pics of Henry?

Lauren

Susan said...

I post a few of the kiddies later...
School bus is leaving!

Anonymous said...

hey girl, what are you trying to say?
ivdp

yoga chickie said...

hi ivdp...i'm responding to someone who commented below that i ought to give up ashtanga and "go back to bikram"...

xo,

Lauren

Anonymous said...

Bi-What??????
greetings, ivdp, have a good weekend!!!

yoga chickie said...

yeah, pretty unmentionable...

Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.

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