I’ve practiced yoga in oil infused yoga studios with strains of Bhangra rhythm moving my breath, I’ve practiced in a sun drenched room overlooking the ocean, outside on a rocky cliff, in my garden, on the beach, and yet, of all these, none compare to morning yoga on a dock.
The setting doesn’t require candles or mood music, and I don’t have to encourage people to imagine they’re somewhere serene. The platform is solid and still and at the same time soft and undulating on the watery. I love to do yoga in the garden, and yoga on the beach of course, but nothing quite compares with yoga on the dock.
Imagine for a moment, the full picture, and imagine you are in that picture, lying on a colourful yoga mat unrolled across the dock. There you are, completely relaxed, stretched out on a firm yet comfortable surface beside the mist-tinged water, You’re breathing in and out, resting under the warming sun, listening to the calm reassuring voice of the yoga teacher inviting you to let your thoughts go into the quiet stillness that surrounds you.
Can you feel the gentle breeze on your skin? And under you, the ever so light undulation of the dock rocking in rhythm to the rise and fall of your full and restorative breathing? Can you move your limbs into various positions that make your muscles feel like they can stretch forever?
Are you there?
Maybe you’re sitting with my neighbour of 20 years, watching others twist and dangle in weird shapes, curious but confirming in your mind what you’ve always suspected: you can’t do yoga.
Our paths crossed the other day, that neighbour’s and mine. I was in my yoga gear holding my mat, returning home along the village road we share. She called me over to her car and said, “Linda, that’s you teaching yoga out on the dock, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is,” I replied and flung my arms open. “Join us tomorrow morning, 8 a.m.”
She looked at me, then at her body, then at me again and said, “Oh, no-no. I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible.”
And so began a conversation I’ve had too many times to count. I responded as I always do and asked, “Can you breathe?” She laughed, “Of course, yes.” I waited until she was ready to hear me and said, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
Yoga, without stretching the imagination (excuse the pun), does not require flexibility. Nor does it require strength. You don’t have to be anything but who you are, arrive at your practice in whatever physical state you happen to be in, and begin.
Improved strength and flexibility are a result of practicing yoga. You’ll discover your way to breathe deeply. Over time, you may learn to move your limbs into specific postures, and over more time, those postures will make sense and your body will remember them.
There’s a simple principle at the heart of the ancient wisdom tradition we call yoga, and it’s based on body-mind awareness. Anyone can do yoga, anytime, anywhere. A bit of time on your mat will make you feel better long into the day. Research into yoga shows the benefits extend beyond a balanced positive sense of well-being; studies have proven yoga reduces stress, repairs deep tissue and muscle injuries, and improves cardiovascular health, to name a few.
Many yoga teachers are offering free yoga as part of their karmic service and karma yoga classes are springing up in studios across the country. Call a studio near you to ask them for their schedule.
Yoga on the docks: I see the picture of the unrolled yoga mat on the dock becoming as ubiquitous as the one of the sun setting on a western shore.