As of this month, I've officially spent half my life practising yoga. It sounds like a fact to pat myself on the back with. Do I get a badge now? Can I cash in some kind of intermediate level yogi chip?
When somebody asks me how long I've been practising, the reaction is usually a genuine "Wow, that's amazing", or a sarcastic "Great, good for you". The first response tends to come from a person who is new to yoga and has fallen in love with it a bit. Someone for who 15 years seems long enough to master whatever it is they're finding difficult, or a huge amount of time to continue enjoying whatever it is they're enjoying.
The second response tends to come from someone who knows I'm a yoga teacher, and wants to make it clear to me (and anyone else in earshot) that they think yoga is load of rubbish and that I'm a deeply flawed individual.
Silent disinterest is the third response of course, but in these situations the question never comes up.
For me, when I think about yoga in terms of how long I've been practising, I'd class my reaction as 10% wow, 60% sarcasm and 30% disinterest: I never set out to practice yoga, especially for this long, so the yoga part of my life feels more like an accident than an achievement. I clearly don't think yoga is rubbish, but I do think the practice can only ever reflect the individual taking part in it, and I don't mind telling you that I am deeply flawed (yeah, who knew right?!). Lastly, despite writing about it (!), I'm just not that interested. Time spent doing anything, is not really a measure of anything but the time spent doing it.
What I am interested in is how I have spent that time, what I have learned (and still have to learn) and why I continue to practice - because continuing to do something purely out of habit is not a practice in my view - it's just a thing that is repeatedly done.
When thinking about my relationship with yoga over the past 15 years, I also have to ask myself what is just the coming of age. My life didn't magically become easy when I discovered yoga. I did not suddenly become wise, or at peace with myself. I do feel more at ease, more wise and more at peace with myself than I did at 15, but I expect that most people do - with or without yoga, we grow up. Read More