Men, I want to encourage you to do Yoga. I'm still not into a lot of it. You'll probably never see or hear me talk about the deep spiritual side. But I take my deep breaths, I reflect inward, I calm myself after a long day. I do the things that reduce stress. I also find that I take the breathing and reflection time along with me on my running and into the weight room.
It's been a month since my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and WOW has it been a learning experience! Changing diapers at 3 a.m., figuring out how to sterilize bottles, bathe the little one, strap her into the car seat, and rock her to sleep. One of my personal heroes, Ram Dass, once asked his guru "How can I attain enlightenment?" His guru replied: "Feed people and serve people." OK.
One of the most stressful material burdens we place on ourselves is all the stuff that comes along with success. For me, each pay increase was correlated with an increase in spending. I felt I needed to spend more on goods and services -- dog walkers, food delivery, house cleaning -- to accommodate my ever-more-demanding lifestyle.
So why have I not gone and committed to yoga before now? I was intimidated. My flexibility and balance are good, but when I tried yoga a few years back, I didn't excel. My head space was still overly competitive, and results based. I tell my clients all the time to do their best, and grow into fitness over time. I know it's what I should do, but it is far from what I do.
This time when I practiced yoga in Bombay, the honking actually relaxed me. I could feel the city's pulse as an insider and wasn't from the outside looking in. When I stood on my yoga mat high above the city, warm smoggy breeze in my hair, I felt as at peace with the honking as I would practicing yoga to the sound of crickets in a field.
I like to tell this story because I feel that our job as yoga instructors is to do what artists, poets, and priests do; to remind us of the great truth that to cling only to sweet as our only form of happiness is a trap. Sorrow teaches us about love and even bliss... if we let it. Ultimately, we can't share the light if we aren't cracked open.
And what better way to celebrate any occasion, than with a decadent raw food dessert like Hacienda's own Raw Carrot Cupcakes? The below recipe and many others are featured daily in our raw restaurant, and will also be available in the soon to be published Hacienda Del Sol Cookbook! What are you waiting for? Make these cakes.
You can hurt your body doing yoga. But that damage pales in comparison to the damage that you can do to both your mind and body if you don't do yoga -- or some other activity that allows you to "connect" or "tune in" to the quiet beneath the chaos. If I can't convince you to try yoga, then at least do this: Experiment to find your own way of stretching your body and soul. Don't let the spectre of potential ill effects keep you inert and brittle. Because everything can hurt you. We humans just have to weigh the options. And then we have to choose the path that offers the best chance of suppleness and grace at a level of risk we can stand.
I left my psychologist's couch three years ago, feeling bitter and yet relieved. "You don't have OCD," she says, "everyone has these compulsions, I wouldn't worry." And yet I was worried. As I've gotten older, the triggers have gotten worse: homework, deadlines, boyfriends, grades, lack of sleep, insomnia over quarter life crises -- you name it.
If you had told me 10 years ago that I would become a believer in the power of yoga, I would have laughed at you. I would have laughed long and loud before telling you to go back to the hippie colony from whence you came. Back then, yoga was nothing more than a trend to me, a trend that bred an army of vacant, granola-crunching women who were evolving into bizarre contortionist people. I wanted no part in it.