Finding life in yoga and yoga in life.
I chose a spot among the couple hundred attendees of the karma yoga practice. Near the large trees at the edge of the park, I rolled my mat out on the grass beside a lady who sat wrapped in a red blanket. She was quietly reading a book, capturing this time of peace and silence before the practice began.
I removed my flip-flops, sat down on my mat cross-legged and closed my eyes, enjoying the scents on the breeze and the coolness of the shade under the city park trees. The musicians, singing softly, performed mike checks as the remaining participants straggled in and set up their mats.
Opening my eyes, I saw the playground just off in the distance in front of me, and I mused that I could have brought my kids. They would have loved the playground and the live music, and they could have joined in the practice whenever they chose. Oh well. I’d had no idea the location would be suited to them, and this time on my own was a nice reprieve from our summer-holiday schedule.
Two young children ran from the playground towards the woman in the red blanket. They spoke in a language I couldn’t quite place. Then she leaned towards me and remarked, “I hope they don’t disturb you.” I laughed, because while I was thinking how clever she was to include her children in such a lovely event and child-friendly location, she was concerned about them interfering with my practice. I shared with her how I was wishing I’d brought my own kids.
We enjoyed a challenging morning of yoga outdoors and joined together for the partner poses. Her children were simply lovely, so calm and quiet, exploring the playground and returning for a couple of poses and a cuddle in the red blanket.
After savasana, the final resting pose, she leaned over once again and said she hoped her children had not bothered me too much with their talking. I explained that most days I do yoga and meditate with my own children next to me, in my lap, on my back or crawling under my downward dog, or fighting in the other room or cranking the volume on the TV. I told her how beautifully behaved her children were.
While in savasana I had been aware of her kids talking, but I was so captivated by the music, the breeze, the stillness of my own body and mind and the peacefulness of the time on the grass that any other sounds around me were absorbed by my own blissful surrender.
She commented that many people without children would prefer a quiet savasana. I thought it was unfortunate that she felt the need to be concerned about how her children were affecting others in this practice. Outdoors. In a large city park. Near a playground. I thought it was brilliant of her to include them in a community-centered, karmic practice.
It reinforced the focus of my own practice and life. Not to step onto my mat and shut the world out, but rather—whether on my mat or off—to engage fully in the moment with the world present. Leaves rustling in the wind, bees buzzing, birds chirping, keys jingling in the pocket of a passerby, a baby crying, kids laughing, an owner whistling for her dog, the squeaky wheel of a bicycle. I don’t wish to shut the world out in order to find me. I wish to find me amidst the world. Among the rich, vibrant sights, sounds and experiences of life.
Stephanie Hrehirchuk is a life-long wellness enthusiast with 15 years of experience in personal training, nutrition and wellness. She currently owns atONE Holistic Living in Calgary, guiding small group and one-on-one yoga, meditation and creativity sessions, as well as offering wellness coaching using her diverse background and experiences.