My month-long visit to Japan is almost over…
During my stay here, my Yoga asana practice has been maybe a few Sun Salutations in the morning, spontaneous twists and side stretches while I wait for my bowl of udon or sushi to arrive at a restaurant, some abdominal work to balance all the overeating, and my favorite… Yin Yoga practice on the futon before falling asleep almost every night (sometimes even falling asleep during my Yin Yoga practice).
Only a few times have I given myself some time to lay out my mat and do a full hour or more of Yang Yoga practice, but my time here is limited and precious and I want to spend as much of that time with my family and friends before going back to LA where I will have plenty of time to do my Yoga asana practice on my own or in class.
For me, being the so-called “bendy-type” thanks to my super flexible mom and pretty flexible dad, the challenge in my Yoga asana practice are the “strong” poses like arm balances and finding the integrity of the pose when doing big backbends or forward folds (unless I’m practicing Yin Yoga). And that is why it is very rewarding when I find myself doing poses that I thought were impossible a few years earlier like Bakasana or even Chaturanga Dandasana and I am very thankful for my Yoga practice.
But being in Japan these last few weeks, I have felt a deep sense of gratitude for my Yoga practice in a different way…
As some or many of you may relate, spending an extended amount of time with family brings up “stuff”. That “stuff” is probably different for everybody, but for me, being brought up in a Japanese family and being influenced by the culture where it is not as common for parents to praise their kids or outwardly show their affection, I always felt a sense of inferiority and a desire for acknowledgement and attention.
Even during this visit to Japan, I had a few moments where I could feel a sense of frustration and sadness bubble up inside when my mom would say something like “maybe you’re too into that Yoga stuff”, or when my dad would make a comment that makes me feel like I’m not good enough.
At one point, I felt the urge to go back to LA so I can be myself without feeling discouraged or let down and live my peaceful life… but that is when I noticed that THIS is my Yoga practice. THIS is what I’ve been practicing for.
Also, the word I had chosen as the intention of this year 2016 is “action” because I didn’t just want to read or say the inspiring quotes that you see all over the place nowadays, but to truly put that into “action” in my own body and my own life.
This is when I started to take very deep breaths and truly allow and feel the negative feelings leave my body and mind along with my audible exhales. This is when I started to truly practice viewing the “imperfections” of my parents as unique and loving qualities. This is when I started to give myself and my parents the praise and acknowledgment that I was craving. This is when I started to feel the underlying care, love, and acknowledgement that my parents have for me that they do not outwardly show. And this is when I started to enjoy and savor the limited time I have with my family so I don’t regret not having it in the future.
Just like my Yoga asana practice, I did not do it perfectly and that is not my intention… but as I sit here on the bullet train ride back to Tokyo after saying good-bye to my parents with a big hug and tears in my eyes and a one-way “I love you” from me to them, I am feeling a sense of love, ease, and content just like during a Savasana at the end of a great Yoga practice.
So, who cares if I might have lost my Chaturanga muscles or even if my stretchy Yoga pants feel a little tighter… I feel I have advanced in MY Yoga practice.