Written by Panorama resident, Charles Kasler. February 2021
We are still under quarantine and have not held classes in a year. Panorama is doing an excellent job keeping residents and staff safe. Many students are practicing at home with audio recordings, some practicing daily! It is time for the spring meditation retreat and again we will send out audio recordings and instructions for people to follow at home. Hopefully, the fall retreat will be back in our chapel. Students miss our quarterly social gatherings almost as much as class. We bond with each other in silence during practice, and then enjoy the companionship when we get together.
People commonly think yoga is about stretching into different positions. We do that of course, but that’s the least of it. Yoga is really about inner peace, and that comes from a steady, calm and focused mind. Many people say they can’t meditate but they have no problem moving. Yoga postures are really a moving meditation. The yoga mat is a great place to cultivate energy flow and breath, both of which focus and quiet the mind. The mat becomes a refuge for peace and contentment.
Mind and body are inseparable. We can work with the body to release chronic tension, improving energy flow, quieting the mind. We can practice breathing to steady both mind and body. And we can do meditation observing our thoughts and their effect on the body. There are many different gates to enter the experience of yoga, not to mention the collective group experience. The shared silence is a healing balm. You don’t have to be good or accomplished; everyone works at their own level. And the fruit of practice does not end when class is over, but we integrate into daily life – walking, gardening, housework, relationships. We get insight into our experience of life, how to use the body harmoniously, aware of the thought process and emotions. They say we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. As we deepen in yoga practice, we begin to see with greater clarity and speak and act with greater discrimination. We become more grounded, centered, and in touch with reality in the present moment.
Training our awareness is really essential for aging – to remain alert, prevent falls, and stay engaged with life. We can practice at any age; we simply modify and adapt practice to fit our own needs. Yoga is about embodiment, making friends with this body we live in, and listening to the wisdom of our bodies. This takes practice and the rewards are well worth it.