Living Yoga: It’s Not Always What You Think

I was going to subtitle this post Joy. But then a guy puked in yoga class this morning. Suddenly my post became “yoga: the puke edition.” Ugh.

It was toward the end of our Gentle Yoga class at the Y. Now that I’m doing yoga every day (hoping to participate for all 108 days, joining Heather), I hope to attend this class every day that it’s offered which is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:15 a.m. In the past, I have been there about once a week and usually think “that’s good enough”.

Ha! Today, day 2 of class for the week, I was there and loving it. I’m feeling great (JOY) after two days of yoga in a row and I’m thinking, this is going to be so good for me. I’m going to get all these kinks out of my back and neck, I’m going to be so strong and flexible and disciplined. I’m going to look good too!

And then about 45 minutes into class, a guy (who’d arrived really late in the first place) suddenly starts coughing and whack! He vomited.

My first thought: “This is going to ruin the last ten minutes of class!” And then, wow, I admire Laurie for keeping the flow going while helping this guy out. She was smooth. And then, oh my gosh why am I so worried about my relaxation time while this guy is obviously not doing well. I can keep doing the poses, and I’m even breathing pretty steadily, but why am I not more compassionate? Should I get up and help him?

So, I’m berating myself over my self-centeredness, amazed at the teacher’s composure through it all, hoping the guy gets out of here fast and making sure NOT to look over at his mat thinking I’m glad I’m at the front of the room, writing this blog post in my head, breathing through spinal twist…etc. etc. And onward.

Then it hit me. It is what it is. This is a truly HUMAN experience. While so often we’re hoping for total transcendence and a spiritual getaway, we still get humanity. In all its messy, beautiful, ugly, compassionate and selfish and paradoxical ways.

It all reminded me of the work of one of my favorite post-Christian authors, Jim Palmer. He says we too often dismiss the humanity of Jesus to give glory to the divine in him. Too often we look for ‘spiritual’ experiences outside of human ones. On Facebook, Jim said the other day:

“True spirituality is not a retreat from this world or your humanity.”

Ah, what lessons to learn.