Bram Levinson

Let’s talk about hobbies. When you were a kid and someone asked you what your hobbies were, what did you answer? I asked the question in this morning’s yoga class, and some of the answers I got were dancing, playing in nature, and playing dress-up. Everyone found something in childhood that, after discovering it, found so much pleasure in it that they and (possibly) their friends made it their hobby. What growing up inevitably led to, for those of us who didn’t excel at sports or have the proclivity to do what later was admired, was the moment in the teenage or pre-teenage years when all of a sudden it didn’t matter what your favourite pastimes were, what mattered was what was “cool.” In the name of fitting in and being accepted, we all, to greater or lesser degrees, let what made us happy fall by the wayside, and we re-directed our efforts as best we could to be cool.

The best example of this for me was in high school. All my classmates listened to Pink Floyd and thought they were the dog’s bollocks. I bought the cassettes and CDs, listened to them over and over again, and searched with every ounce of effort possible to find some redeeming quality to the songs so that I could relate to my peers and be able to consider myself at the same level of cool as I held them up to. I went over the songs incessantly, desperately trying to hear what everyone else seemed to be hearing and loving. Suffice it to say that I never heard it (apologies in advance to all of you Pink Floyd fans). I don’t listen to them anymore, but if I should happen to overhear one of their songs playing somewhere, I still find myself searching for something good in it 😉 [SIDE NOTE (and possible future blog): That which is commonly accepted as being good is only popular because it’s commonly accepted. It doesn’t mean it will resonate with you, and it doesn’t mean that you’re missing some chromosome just because you find yourself in opposition to the masses. The masses have been wrong on countless occasions, so believe in your own intuition and forget what’s commonly believed to be true. It’s all relative and subjective.]

My yoga practice very much mirrors what I’ve brought up. I started practicing yoga at home, softly, on my own with flash cards, TV shows with guided classes, books and magazines. And I absolutely loved it. I then inched my way into the yoga community where all of a sudden I felt the pressure to let go of what had initially charmed me so that I could go through the motions of the more intense and physical classes, desperately searching for some redeeming quality. I ended up finding some, thankfully, but nonetheless fell into the same pattern of thinking that the two worlds were mutually exclusive. My initial inquisitiveness and appreciation of yoga as a soft, comforting practice seemed at odds with what I was discovering the deeper I delved into what the yoga community deemed as wonderful. They didn’t need to be at odds, and I have found myself gravitating back to a comfortable middle ground, where the spiritual and philosophical have meshed with some degree of the physical.

Your yoga practice, your career, your relationships and your studies should all be the sum total of who you are and always have been, complemented by what your new experiences bring you. It should be what you want it to be, while remaining open to see what else you can learn, live, and absorb to contribute to bringing you closer to who you are destined to be. Don’t ever feel that you have to give something up to be able to experience more. Not for a yoga class, not for a man, not for a woman, not for a job, not for anything or anyone. Don’t be afraid to incorporate what you already know and love about your life thus far into whatever it is you’re learning. Bring yourself into everything you do.

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