by Kirk Hensler. Originally published on Rebelle Society on March 6, 2013.
“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science—science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.” ~ Amit Ray
For me, calmness is just a feeling I get to hang onto for a moment or two. I can’t live there, it’s too unfamiliar. I can’t walk around with the Buddha’s half smile. It moves through me and I’m grateful; then I’m quickly back to struggling with the burdens of being an emotional and passionate human.
I used to get the feeling of calmness after a long day of fight training and sparring. Boxing, taekwondo, jiu jitsu, mma, and muay thai kept my aggression in check. I went from being an angry kid looking for fights in the ghetto to an angry kid looking for the fight within myself; so I could be broken down and finally start moving forward.
I moved along mentally but my body was getting hammered every day and injuries got the best of me. I jumped on the yoga wagon because I heard it could offer some of that peace of mind (hot chicks).
It’s been a nice ride, although much more challenging than the martial arts. I couldn’t beat myself into a restful state. Instead, I had to learn to be comfortable with whatever state I was in and make the most of it. Not an ideal situation for a control freak.
Over time, it was nice learning how to let go of some shit that really doesn’t matter in order to be moving along more consistently with the natural state of things: up, down, backwards, forwards, side steps, rest, movement, sleep, energy, excitement, pain, force, ease, patience, comfort, irritation, anxiety, power, weakness, softness, and strength.
Yoga for me is a practice in so many ways. The discipline and grueling physical demand are nice but a lot of the time I want to jump off my mat screaming because my body isn’t moving quickly enough to keep up with my thoughts. Usually I want to slam my fists down into my mat quick, but I stick with it until I experience that moment when things get quiet, when I feel a steady drip of calmness pouring through my yoga iv.
It’s not easy getting there, sometimes I twist so deeply that I think I’m going to snap my spine, but I know that when I untwist my whole world will look differently (amazing).
Yoga is a drug—the cleanest, most powerful one I’ve ever taken. It gives me access to all of the energy in the entire universe and lets me walk through life with superpowers.
This is what you get when you practice asana (postures) and pranayama (breath control).
Oddly, no life enhancements have been made through posting about my supreme dedication to yoga on Facebook, nor does anyone else in the world really care about my self discoveries along the way, except maybe my mom. It’s personal and it takes a long time.
As for the days when I simply cannot stay still, I return to my martial arts roots, sparring competitively with people trying to kill me. Walking through punches on my way to administer a beating to my opponent feels a lot like rolling through vinyasas on my way to a chemical wonderland.
We are all looking for that elusive peace of mind. My mind misbehaves a lot so, in practicing both, I get to whip it back in line.