I recently listened to a podcast interview with a well-known and long-time Ashtanga teacher, and I was struck by the comment he made that he’s “just a beginner in this thing.” I was very intrigued by the teacher’s journey through deep meditation practice, traveling monkhood, significant study of another lineage, and philosophy education to get to his current practice and teaching. After half a century of exploration, this teacher is still seeking and open to more.
When I first started to practice yoga, I realized that the modern version being taught in my hometown was not going to fulfill my desire for exploring the deep aspects of this ancient system. While many around me were flocking to classes combining practice with something else, I was seeking out opportunities for meditation, pranayama and philosophy. I felt like an oddball, but kept following my truth, and one day Pranakriya joined me on the path. My true north was found.
On the journey, I explored practices in several other lineages and with various teachers. Though none of those lineages felt like home in the way Pranakriya does and no teacher has so profoundly affected my personal practice as Yoganand, I continue to learn from some of those other teachers. I find bits of wisdom to carry with me, and I’m able to discern what is useful. I even have realized that the modern versions of yoga that I judged as not really yoga have given me a great deal of self-study and practice in kindness. For that, I am grateful.
The beauty of life is diversity and what we can learn from it. This is no different with yoga. The landscape of yoga is as wonderful as being in different forests and feeling a little bit the same and a lot different. Curiosity in our practice can extend to curiosity about what brings others to the practice. Having a dialogue rather than standing back and trying to make sense of something we don’t understand can lead to an appreciation for all that is around us and all that we have. I plan to continue on the path as if I’m just a beginner in this thing, learning all I can and appreciating how yoga is impacting so many in so many ways. All the while, I’ll know that true north is right here in the PK family.