Ian Hoke is a husband, father, and teacher living and working in Zurich, Switzerland. Catch more of his thoughts at his education blog.
I am, by no means, a yogi. I have practiced, enjoyed, and benefited from yoga, in particular from the practice of Ashtanga. For several years I delved into and became absorbed by my yoga practice. My practice developed into something regular, five to six days a week. My body felt stronger and simply more comfortable than it had for years. My mind was more focused and disciplined. The two years in which I explored Ashtanga were also the first two years of my eldest daughter Dorothy’s life.
Dorothy is like a clock, wedded to routine, and has been from three months old. The predictability of her schedule and the amount of freedom afforded by life in Chengdu, China, where a teacher’s wages made us fabulously wealthy allowed me to attend several yoga classes each week. Household chores were nonexistent. My job was relaxed. Once per year, we flew to a fabulous Thai island for a week of clean food, yoga, and massages. These were, in the words of H.I. McDunnough, the salad days.
When I arrived in Switzerland, I practiced several times, tried out some new yoga studios, and ultimately stopped cold. The reasons for this are myriad, but can be boiled down to a poor reaction to change on my part and a reduction in what I perceive as my free time. For the first year in Zurich, I could easily have continued to practice, but in May of last year, we had a second daughter and I no longer see any spaces at all for practice. I have no doubt that opportunities exist, but I do not see them.
As such, the past two years have seen my body weaken, my posture slump, and my mind become more distracted. What I learned through my brief yoga practice, I still know. What I gained in a concrete sense, like improved discipline, is gone. But what I wonder is this: Am I stopped on the path or have I lost the path entirely?
That yoga is a tradition emphasizing the importance of gurus makes sense to me now more than ever. What is a teacher if not a guide who cares enough about the long view to keep us working today, against human nature that seems remarkably myopic? I have not found a teacher yet, or maybe I have and chose to forget. In a virtually connected world, the importance of physical proximity to one’s teacher remains clear, uncluttered by wires and silicon chips. I don’t have that.
What I do have is a mat and the knowledge of part of the Primary Series. What I lack is the will to roll out that mat and begin. I should. I may. It would be, for a man with two special daughters, powerful modeling that inaction is no thing, no way, and that right action is better.
I think “Maybe tomorrow,” but there is some today yet remaining.
One thought on “Parenting and Practicing Yoga: Maybe Tomorrow by Ian Hoke”
I have my yoga mat rolled up and leaning against the wall in my bedroom. The thought being: “If I put it right here I can grab it and workout anywhere in the house.”
Yet, it would be better unrolled and inviting on my bedroom floor where it once lived (until my cat discovered it and used it as a scratching post).
Thanks for the reminder of what I’m missing when that mat sits rolled up and leaning on the bedroom wall.
Uggggh! I know how to feel better. Why don’t I do better…more often?