August 27, 2013

Practice & Maybe You’ll Find Your Gut. ~ Katinka Sætersdal Remøe

Remind me, why is it that I practice again…?

As part of an Ashtanga teacher training course I am undertaking this year, I had to write a paper on why I practice yoga. While it wasn’t the first time I’d asked myself that question, it was the first time I really “dug” into it and got my reflections down on paper.

As I sat there thinking, I remembered an article I’d read a while ago by Frances Harjeet on exactly this question. Her answer (the simplest version) was the following:

I practice because without practice I am a mess.

There I had it. Her answer had gone straight to my heart and now was my opportunity to reflect a bit on why.

The thing is, I have often wondered why yoga, as opposed to other interests, has been the one thing that I’ve kept on doing more or less continuously over the past 10 years.

Why not tennis? Or windsurfing? Or theatre?

At first, I thought it was because of the practicality of a yoga practice. As long as I’ve had space for my mat, I’ve been able to practice pretty much anywhere and at anytime.This flexibility, not to mention independence, has matched very well with my restless, “vagabond-like” lifestyle over the past years.

I am a nature-loving geek and love being surrounded by alpine mountains, running in misty forests or skinny dipping all by myself in a hidden river (being totally honest here). However, over the past years, work and studies have taken me to places where this has not been possible.

Being able to at least continue with my yoga practice has been a life savior.

That being said, my practice has primarily been driven by a physical focus, or that’s what I’ve always thought.

However, Frances’ article got me thinking and after some reflection, I realized that this physical focus has been the disguise for something much deeper.

That yoga has been something stable to come back to when everything else has been the opposite.

That getting on my mat has been the much needed “free-zone” from busy cities, a busy monkey mind and from frustrating feelings of not wanting to be in a place when I’ve had to.

That a yoga practice has kept my head together in times when I thought it would blast.

While I cannot claim to never have lost it (in a small sense, not as in “going completely insain” kind of way), yoga has also made it easier to get it back together again.

In short, I practice so that I don’t lose it. So that I keep my head in the right place and my feet on the ground. Without it, I am a mess indeed.

But there’s another reason as well which has become more apparent over the last couple of years.

The transformational one.

The “figure out who I am” one.

The “finding myself” reason which, I’ll admit, I have major trouble saying out loud.

How many times have I not judged someone for using that expression seriously? Thinking he’s totally confused and needs to get his feet back on the ground? And here I am, feeling that that’s become a very important reason as to why I continue practicing yoga.

It is not so much about just asanas anymore but more about what I am feeling while I am doing them and why. Why am I falling on my ass in Utthita Padangustasana today when I was doing it so gracefully yesterday? Why are my eyes bouncing like ping pong balls when they should have a steady gaze? Why am I thinking about everything else but the actual pose I am doing?

And why this shift in motivational focus?

Because (and yes, I did start thinking about this after reading one of Sally Kemptons’ excellent articles on Yoga philosophy), to a certain extent, I am confused about who I am. I am confused about what kind of life I want to have and what job would suit me the best. About why I studied what I did at university and embarked on a career that only made me miserable. I am confused about which path to take and which not to take (though the latter is getting clearer…).

I am confused when people seem to know the answers to my questions and those answers do not match my gut feeling.

I don’t have many nightmares but I have one and that is to wake up when I am 60 with a feeling that I have led my life as if on autopilot. Life’s just too short for not living it in a way that’s truest to your own nature, but in order to do that, you have to be true to your heart.

But how can you be true to your heart when you’re uncertain about what this truth is?

So, I practice yoga to figure that out.

I practice focusing on what I am doing, right here and right now, to get a deeper connection to this obscure gut feeling of mine.

To learn to listen to what the heart is saying instead of the head, a major challenge when the head’s been the dominator for so many years.

To be able to separate thoughts about who I want to be and who others want me to be from what I actually am.

So, I guess my reasons for practicing yoga can be summed up in two main ones. Firstly, so that I can keep my head in place and my monkeythoughts on track. And secondly, so that I get better at separating my way too dominant head from my heart.

The goal? To find my oh-so-real self!

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick

{photo: via Robert Sturman Photography}



Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Katinka Sætersdal Remøe