I don’t know when it started for me, but somehow, over the last ten years, yoga as a practice has melted into everything I do, as a continuous flow. My favorite translation of the Sanskrit word Yoga implies that everything is already united. The practice part is learning how to pay attention to this wholeness in every waking moment.
[Editor's note: Today's post comes from Lydia Zamorano. Lydia is the co-owner and director of The Yoga Studio in Squamish, British Columbia. She has traveled to India twice to study and practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, meditation and yoga philosophy. She loves rock climbing, hanging out with her boyfriend Sonnie, and is inspired by people who have a strong pull toward community building and sustainability.]
Yoga usually starts with the most perceptible and tangible aspects of life: breathing and the body. The way people experience yoga in our culture today is usually in a studio setting where one is led through a sequence of postures to promote health and wellbeing. However, the practice of yoga does not have to be confined to a formal room or an hour-and-a-half time slot. It can be as simple as the act of listening. When playing outside, it’s amazing to me how this mindset can unmask a dull experience and expose a brilliant one. It has been a way for me to realize that boredom doesn’t exist.
[Meditating. Lydia in Baddha Padmasana on a granite boulder by the Stawamus River. Photo: Sonnie Trotter]
I just had the opportunity to learn how to surf in Tofino, British Columbia. I couldn’t believe how much the daily yoga practice allowed me to feel the surfing moment completely. Sex wax for sticky mat, spreading toes and widening my base, grounding, rooting and expanding. Upward Dog to Chaturanga. Push up. Warrior stance. Inhale, pause. Exhale. Counter-balance around the central axis. Familiar, yet new territory. A sense that the ground is still beneath me, but further away. Swell, condense, swell. The water is breathing too.
[Waves. Classic Tofino Mist on the horizon at Long Beach, British Columbia. Photo: Sonnie Trotter]
After two hours of playing in the waves I sat on Long Beach for a rest and closed my eyes. I was quickly amazed at how easy it was to be mindful of breathing while wrapped up in a wetsuit. Breathing in and breathing out, the sensation was amplified. The light touch of my breath was instantly apparent all over my body. I could feel the expansion of my skin against the wetsuit in every part of me, even my legs and toes. I could feel everything: the sun on my lips, the wind on my cheeks and the weight of my body slowly sinking into the coarse, damp sand.
The sound of my breath was surrendered and subsequently overcome by the rhythm of the ocean. I was in perfect cadence with my immediate environment. I could hardly tell who was breathing anymore.
I had no concept of how long I sat there. It could have been a few vibrant seconds, or up to an hour. After some time the pause faded and my attention was pulled by the sound of a breaking wave. I opened my eyes to see the mist creeping around the point and set out to try my luck on some more waves with my little brother.
[My brother and me. Lydia and Gabriel Zamorano sharing their first surfing experience – both of them too happy to be embarrassed by the size of their boards. Photo: Sonnie Trotter]
It was one of the most memorable practices I’ve ever had, and it was far from a conventional setting. It was a simple coming together of the earth, sky, water, wind and my own body, the kind of yoga that has stood the test of time. Maybe that’s exactly the culmination of a good practice.
I can only hope that more people can slip into these real moments where there is a feeling that everything is already perfect.
[Tree Hugger. Lydia cuddles up to a huge and beautiful, deciduous tree in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver. Photo: Sonnie Trotter]
You can read more from Lydia on the blog Being with Yoga.