I need yoga camp

Right now, my bedside table holds a dozen or so books. I’ve started most of them, but the two that are most dog-eared are the ones I’m currently reading for book groups; The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi and Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison.  How perfect for me right now. I’m fighting between wanting to be a spiritually grounded and dedicated yogi and the reality of being an irreverent and feisty yogi wannabe who is critical of the whole yoga as a means to becoming a better person craze (ok- maybe it’s not a “craze”, but lately yoga talk seems to smack of “self help”). I guess I should go back to yoga camp.

“Yoga Camp” is what a few of my fellow yoga teachers-in-training affectionately call our 2-week experience at a yoga teacher training intensive this past fall. Well, at least a few of us who stayed in the dorm room. We were the yogis who couldn’t afford the bit of extra money to stay in a private or smaller shared room close to the space where we practiced every morning and studied in the afternoon. And I like to think we dorm “orphans” all had a more truly “campy” experience because of it, complete with a ritual of chanting Pūrnam at the end of each day from our Annie-esque beds. I loved it. And I believed wholeheartedly that I was changed forever because of it. I was going to leave yoga camp a true yogi who was prepared to radiate yogi love to all who desired the yoga glow! And then….I returned home and to reality.

My reality is that I live in a tiny condo with a partner who is a blunt New Englander with a strong distaste for all things “woo woo” (and I was filled to the brim with what she would consider “woo”) and a 17 or so year old dog who is sweeter than pie but who has Cushing’s Disease, which leaves her prone to peeing. Anywhere. My yoga bliss dissolved faster than an Emergen-C packet, and within days I was back to my edgy self, silent screaming for any possible moment to sneak off to yoga class or, alternatively, to curl up in a messy ball with a book about yoga. I was driving to yoga class at warp speed after work and raging at anyone who was in my way. My yoga glow had turned into a hot yoga mess.

Enter my Yogi Sangha Sisterhood and the idea of a yoga book club. As luck would have it (or would this be the Universe?), I found out near the end of yoga camp that I lived just a short distance from two of my dorm room sisters. Even more precious was finding out that we all have free time on Fridays and we all have a love for sugar, tea, and all things irreverent. Yoga book club was born. A two to three-hour period on Fridays when we gather to talk about yoga, life, food, partners, hopes and dreams and, most importantly, set space for unconditional love. It’s better than any yoga class, and I am a better person for having my yoga camp dorm orphan sisters.

 Maybe living between a sacred yoga text and an irreverent book of laugh out loud yoga stories is perfect. It’s Aparigraha– non-grasping. Or, as Donna Farhi describes it, “the state that comes spontaneously as the mind begins to experience the effortless Being of the Self; viewing the world in a more generous perspective”. And I’m nothing if not generous. So, here I am; the imperfectly irreverent yogi wannabe yoga camp orphan who now and then breaks into a case of the giggles in the middle of yoga class or hides in the bathroom to finish one more chapter of a deliciously cheeky yoga memoir. No need to grasp. Because, as we learned at yoga camp, “I am perfect and whole exactly as I am”.