Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Yoga Books: Going Om (Real Life Stories On and Off the Yoga Mat)

I just finished reading GoingOm: Real Life Stories On and Off the Yoga Mat, edited by Melissa Carroll. This is my favorite yoga book of 2014!

It’s such a beautiful collection of personal narratives from talented authors. Each story is a glimpse into what it really means to be a yogi, how the experience spills over into real life. The way asana illuminates the truths of life. The laughable moments of what sometimes goes on in a yoga class… and the deeper reflections that show us how they lead to healing.
Photo via Pinterest.
The writing in these essays is effortless – sometimes witty and clever, sometimes heartbreaking. What I love about the book is the raw honesty that comes through, and the way that the book is as much about what it means to be human as it is about what it means to do yoga. I’d highly recommend it, whether you’re a seasoned yogi or someone who wants to learn more about yoga.

Here are a few excerpts I really loved. The first is about how yoga helps us see our bodies with compassion, instead of criticism; the second is a beautiful description of how yoga can be captured using photography—and how the real yoga is in the shedding of the ego. Enjoy!
Photo via Pinterest.
from Being Seen by Emily Rapp

Yoga changed the relationship I have with my body by forcing me to understand that it was not a fixed entity to control but an embodied presence to be enjoyed.

I found that some days I could balance, some days I could not.  I found that I had more upper-body strength than I had counted on. I found that I stopped worrying about the way I looked doing a pose, and just found a way to do it. I stopped trying to be good.
Photo via Pinterest.
One day, in the middle of practice, on a day when I was finding the poses particularly difficult, the teacher approached me and said, "You have a beautiful practice." I had always wanted to hear that I had a beautiful body, althought I knew part of me would always resist that that could possibly be true. I felt, in that moment of acknowledgement, seen. Not for looking a particular way or for conforming to some norm, but for simply being present in that room, in the moment...

True yoga isn't about being technically skilled, and it's never about being good, as hard as it is to believe these statements. It's about being prsent, being alive, and for me, being truly seen. Now, instead of thinking, I will never be good at yoga, I think, I love to do yoga. A subtle change, but a transformative one.
Photo via Pinterest.
from Broga by Alan Shaw

One picture slayed me. Dru is in a south Tampa yoga studio, a few years younger than she is now, her hair noticeably shorter. The picture shows her hovering over the floor. Wearing a red top and pink yoga pants, she's inclined forward in Eight-Angle Pose. She holds her upper body in a lowered push-up position, and her legs bent around to her right. One leg is fed under her arm and the other over, and she's twisted them at the ankle.

I've seen her in this pose in three other photos from the album, and each one just knocks me out. The casual strength it must have taken, the years of focusing on her core, her form. She's exhibiting in the photos the strength I chase each time I practice yoga. The power in her body I see each time I look at this photo kills me and reminds me of why I fell for her. 

It's in her eyes. She's looking at the camera, face placid as a still lake at dawn. No sweat on her brow, or grimace marring her mouth, no red flushing across her cheeks.

She's at peace.

And there's no pride in her expression.
Photo via Pinterest.

Many thanks to the team at Cleis Press for sharing the book. Namaste.

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