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November 2011 Yoga and the Modern Age

Dear Yoga Friends,

We usually have a big Thanksgiving gathering at our house, but this year we kept it small, just the four of us and one friend. We went around the table to give everyone an opportunity to express something they were thankful for. Everyone said something about family and friends. We could have kept going around, but we preferred to shift our attention to eating of course. Had we continued, I wonder how many times we would have gone around before someone expressed thanks for cell phones, laptops, iPads, iPods, Facebook, Netflix, etc. I wonder if anyone would mention those transformational elements of modern life. It seems that what matters to us most are still the basics - relationships, health, love, feeling part of something important.

In these writings I frequently touch on technology and the pace of modern life, and how yoga offers us a respite. Not to say that we cannot embrace all the new things and ways. In fact we should; we can't keep our heads in the proverbial sand. But on the other hand, what is really important in life? Perhaps I'm somewhat of a luddite and idealistic about yoga, but I'm thankful for it, and would get to it pretty quickly going around that circle.

Yoga requires just you - body, consciousness, breath - and perhaps (but not necessarily) the floor. You can buy devices that measure your heart rate, calorie burn, speed, altitude, GPS position, etc. so you can somehow optimize whatever you are doing. You can buy special shoes that record your movements and let you know the quality of your soccer-playing. But in yoga, there is no technology more sophisticated than a mat, strap, or block. Why is this important? The complexity of technology stimulates the brain and allows us to solve more difficult problems, but often distracts us from something significant, like ourselves, or the person one is with.

As the bustle of the holidays picks up, and the myriad "to dos" pile up, yoga offers a promise of health, stability, simplicity, and a sense of well being. There are really few other activities that do that. Just one yoga pose, one conscious breath, one moment of awareness, makes a perceptible difference in how you feel. Try it now!






Chad Balch