There was a 2:30 class today, but its my wedding anniversary and I spent the day with my wife. So, right off the bat I killed any chance of doing 365 classes in a row this year.
Meditations from the Mat starts off with some general thoughts on why yoga is taking off in the west. In keeping with his optimism, Gates thinks it comes from westerners trying to retreat from unbalanced ways of life and trying to find a return to something that is balanced. I'm not sure I agree about that part of it, but it is a very positive way to look at it.
Two things particularly struck me here. First, he compared yoga to the Wizard of Oz. He said that yoga is a journey that leads you home. Like Dorothy in Oz, the way home was always there for her, and the journey and her adventures were just a way for her finally learning to accept that. Just a few weeks ago, Lenette also made the Wizard of Oz connection, by quoting the America song, Tin Man: "Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn't, didn't already have." The idea is that everything that you need for your well being has already been included. It's about as hopeful thought as I can imagine.
The other quote that I loved from this first day is the simple definition of yoga: "Yoga is the practice of celebrating what is." There have been a few classes that have simply flown by, where I have been absolutely happy to be in the room, sweating my butt off, and doing my best at the poses. One of the reasons I keep going is in the hope that that I will again have that sort of magical experience. I think Gates here is saying that yoga is the practice of gaining that sort of experience on a regular basis, and then perhaps applying that same thing both on and off the mat. If so, again I think its an extraordinarily hopeful statement.