Yoga

Full disclosure: this post is not going to be about downward dog or the sun salutation, so if you’re here to read that, I’m sorry to disappoint. I do a sort of Westernized hatha yoga with my husband to keep my body fit and healthy, but this post is not about that.

I know I’ve been really really absent; sometimes I need time by myself to sort things out, and my own spiritual practice is no different. My life has presented me with some challenging choices and I’m working through those. I also don’t know what I’m doing, as far as spiritual practice is concerned. I know for certain that sanatana dharma is still the thing that makes the most sense to me, but how to apply that practically in a way that makes sense to me? I am still figuring that out.

I suppose that’s part of the journey, right? I attended temple celebrations for Ram Navami a few months ago, which were lovely, if still a bit confusing. I’ve never seen the temple so packed with devotees! There were a couple of people who were very friendly and helpful, and guided me through what everyone else was doing. I was so grateful!

And then there was this guy. Backstory is that the temple cafeteria was giving devotees complimentary food as prasadam, so we wandered downstairs to partake. There was a long line of people we stood in, and I felt a little self-conscious, since I’m a relative stranger at the temple (being self-conscious is something I’m very good at). We got our food and afterward I noticed that there was lemon pickle in a little tub by the counter and that people were pushing into the line to get some. I love pickle, so I got up to get some myself. As I reached over, with a polite “excuse me,” a man glowered at me and demanded, “why are you here?”

Honestly, this is the first time I’ve encountered this. I replied, “it’s a holiday!” He then asked, “do you know what holiday it is?” Baffled, I responded, “yes, it’s Ram Navami.” Then he asked, “who is your guru?” I was caught off guard by this. I have no guru. I feel that a relationship with a guru is a personal thing, and should be built as one builds a relationship with anybody—carefully, making sure this is the right thing first. I have not encountered a living guru I feel comfortable enough with to do this, and honestly, this is a big holdover from my Christian background. I am wary of people in a position of great reverence from the public. So instead, I look to people who are good teachers, and take what knowledge I can from them until the time comes that I find the right guru (if that time ever comes). Anyhow, back to the man at the temple. He then asked, “how do you know what today it?” Stupidly, I said, “I read a lot.” This seemed to satisfy him, although he glared at me from a few tables away until we left.

It bothered me for a while. Why don’t I have a guru? Should I have a guru? I kept running questions like this through my head. Then I decided that I’d learn about people who’ve built relationships with a guru, and continue on my path of personal discovery.

I’m fascinated by that relationship. I’m also fascinated by the various ways people express devotion. Yogic discipline is not something I think I’ve ever been particularly good at, but it’s another habit to develop, so I am hopeful I can do it someday.

Yesterday I found this documentary, and have watched it twice. Ashrita Furman decided in college to become a devotee of Sri Chinmoy, a guru who advocated devotion through physical activity (hatha yoga, as far as I interpret that). Ashrita chose to break as many world records as he could as an expression of devotion to his guru. It’s a delightful take on hatha yoga, and it is so refreshing to see a person so joyful about his life and his path.

Enjoy.

EDIT: I was confused abotu the forms of yoga (this happens frequently), so I looked them up and found a handy shorthand guide: Hinduism: Forms of Yoga It breaks things down nicely into simple terms and while it’s not exhaustive by any means, it’s a good starting point.

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About HappyGoth

By day, I'm a graphic designer. By night, I'm a knitter. I'm doing my part to keep Hotlanta stylish. I imagine that if you don't already understand the title of the blog, you're probably confused and perhaps slightly annoyed, but never fear - I do have a reason (and it's a good one). Having gone to hear Stephanie Pearl McPhee, and then having been inspired to blog about knitting, I found myself wondering what to call the blog. I recalled a conversation I had with Mouse and the Chicken Goddess about why it is a Bad Idea to anger knitters - this conversation was following SPM, aka the Yarn Harlot telling the assembled throng about Those Who Do Not Understand Knitting and Therefore Belittle It Much to the Chagrin of Others, or TWDNUKTBMCO, which is not the acronym she used but is the one I'm using because I forgot hers - that is, we are numerous and we all have very pointy sticks, easily transforming into an angry mob. Therefore, knitters = angry mob.
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3 Responses to Yoga

  1. Dhrishti says:

    Thank you for this post. I would encourage you to persevere. People who are born into Hinduism seem to have less issues with the “figuring out” that we who are not born into have. In my experience, this has been because they haven’t been given the freedom to establish their own path as we have. They are born into a system or circle of beliefs and that’s where their identity rests – which flavors questions like the ones you received in your interrogation.

    People like the man you described are likely to think only those with brown skin will ever truly be Hindu and everyone else is a wannabe. It’s a brazen kind of ignorance that will follow them and is nothing that should bother you.

    Please don’t doubt yourself – figure things out as often as you need to and take as long as you need to do just that!

    • HappyGoth says:

      Thank you! This is why I blog — the path is easier when I know there are others on similar ones.

      I also think I’m still stuck a bit in the old one-life rut, and feel like there’s a time limit on things (which there clearly isn’t). It gets easier as time goes on, and I imagine things will continue to be so!

    • HappyGoth says:

      I guess I’ve decided that my path is what it is, and forcing it doesn’t help anybody, least of all me. I tried that for years before leaving the Episcopal Church, and it was such a relief not to be doing it. I’m not really anxious to start doing that again.

      Anyway, thanks for the advice. I appreciate the words of support! (Honestly, I get more of your kind of advice than the weird, off-putting kind, so that’s a good balance, in my opinion.)

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