What is a “Yahoo” Moment?
I once had a writing challenge that was something along the lines of “Tell us about your ‘yahoo’ yoga moment.” At first, I could think of no yahoo moments. As far as I can remember there have been no sudden or grand epiphanies. I always knew that yoga would be good for me. I knew it years before I was brave enough to attend a class. And when I did finally convince myself to walk through that studio door, I was not disappointed. I have yet to be disappointed. Yoga is everything I thought it would be. So when it comes to epiphanies, I guess that qualifies as mine. And the more I think about it, I may have had a few yahoo moments.
I Am What Yoga Is
The first yahoo was that I discovered that “I am what Yoga is.” To put it bluntly, most yogis are “normal” people, like me. I am a typical middle-aged guy. I have all the ailments, sore muscles, and inflexible joints that most people of my age have. But my yoga community had no preconceived notions of who or what a beginner yogi should be. They accepted me just as I was. And to be accepted as is was awesome.
My second yahoo came when I found out that my entry experience with Yoga might not be universal. This was a surprise. I heard stories that did not coincide with mine. There were tales of non-acceptance, stories of exclusion and judgment for imperfection. So I count myself as lucky to have entered the world of yoga in a very accepting studio with very accepting teachers. I also count myself lucky to have been accepted into the larger realm of yoga during a time of transition.
Pushing for Inclusive Yoga
My third yahoo came as I witnessed the efforts of the present community of yogis correct past indiscretions of non-acceptance. I saw it in the yoga-related media. Social and professional media were full of comments, discussion, and articles calling for more inclusive forms of yoga– yoga that “normal” people need and want. I saw it at other studios. I heard it in teacher’s voices. No one was proud of excluding anyone.
And the push of the community worked and is continuing to make progress. Yoga programs focused on all types of people and bodies and capabilities are popping up everywhere. They are being created as brick and mortar studios, as internet sites, podcast lessons, and outdoor experiences. There is yoga for rehab, paddleboard yoga, flying yoga, hot yoga, yoga-in-the-park, glow-yoga, Hatha yoga, flow yoga, and mommy-and-me yoga. Classes abound for sports teams, corporate execs, retirees and many more. Suddenly, one does not have to look far for a yoga practice. And the nice thing is if it’s not quite a perfect fit, it won’t matter. You will be perfect for it. Acceptance.
Other Yahoo Moments
So what about the other “yahoo moments” that I have experienced in my yoga years (all 3 of them)? Well, these yahoos are smaller. And they are not even close to being epiphanies. They are closer to being my favorite moments with yoga. And most come from expressions my teachers have said during a practice. The words they have used to describe poses, feelings, or expectations have educated and amused me. But even being amused by a description has had the result of me thinking deeper about the pose, or my self-expectation.
Has your teacher used the expression of “concrete dog”? This would be the first few downward dog poses attempted in a practice. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Have you heard of “Sleeping or Baby Eagle”? Think of Eagle pose with your knees bent as far as you can go and now you are closer to the floor. Does your teacher use the euphemism of “sensation” to describe pain? I think this is my hated “favorite.” (You may have a hated favorite too. It’s when the teacher uses a word or phrase that sounds good but really means something totally different. Like when they say, “You might feel a little sensation as you enter this pose.” But what you feel is closer to the pain of being bitten by the 3-headed guardian dog of Hades!)
Other yahoo moments come from where I have had the opportunity to practice yoga. I have been lucky to practice on the Appalachian Trail, the basement of my firehouse (I work as a firefighter), and the park behind my favorite restaurant, to name a few. Now I do have to admit, when I practice behind my favorite restaurant it is because the practice is followed by a Sunday champagne brunch. Don’t tell anyone that the food and drink may be the motivation for me to come to that Sunday practice!
Beginning to Write
My final yahoo I guess qualifies as an epiphany. And this epiphany is that I am writing about yoga! Nowhere in my past is there any hint that I would choose to sit down and expose others to my thoughts on yoga. And now, counting this essay, I have done it three or four times. And I can see myself continuing along this writing path. Why? Because each time I get the chance to practice, I wonder why the entire population of the earth is not “doing yoga.” I must tell them all my stories. If it leads just one person to yoga, it will be worth the effort.
What are your yoga yahoo moments? Namaste from a “normal man-yogi.”