Remembering Yogic Roots: Happy Australia Day!
January 26 is Australia Day. I wondered what message I could post on such a day. More importantly, what picture do I have that can send that message? So I looked through my (limited) pictures folder and found the perfect one; a picture of my dad in front of a Queensland pub taken by my sister. My dad, ever thinking of us, dressed down deliberately for the occasion by wearing a singlet with an unbuttoned flannie (that’s flannelette shirt for any non-Aussies). This is not the type of outfit he would normally wear to the pub (he’d at least do up his shirt) but my sister did not have anything other than sports clothes to go out in that night and he wanted to make sure she felt comfortable.
Now, what does my dad in an unbuttoned flannie standing in front of a Queensland pub got to do with anything? Well, a lot. My dad does not do yoga but he did instill in me from a very young age the importance of being healthy and treating your body with respect. Sure, he fed us mars bars for breakfast sometimes, but that was only on a Saturday before we went out to Little Athletics to run around for three hours. And when everyone else was eating white bread at school, we had brown bread—dad used to say eating white bread was like eating fresh air.
My dad also gave to me the joy of long-distance running (see my earlier post about the marathon in Hips Don’t Die). I was never a sprinter and I was never that fast, but I loved to get out there and go for really long runs. It was while training for the marathon that I realized the connection between those long runs and meditation. There is a certain point on a long run where tension in mind and body starts to dissolve and you come into a joyful place of flow. Your breathing is steady and your body connects deeply to the continual rise and fall of the breath. For me it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get into that place, after which point there is a place of mental clarity where peace and calm enters the mind and there is not a problem in the world that matters at that moment.
Some people might call this a runner’s high. I am not so sure. I never felt high. I always felt still, peaceful, and calm. No matter what problem I had going into the run, it became so much more manageable coming out of it. Nowadays just thinking about a long run even starts to put me in that frame of mind and I find myself connecting to my breath automatically.
So, there we have it, I managed to squeeze in a birthday message, a picture of my dad in a flannie drinking a beer, and find a way to tie it into my yoga practice. Excellent work if I do say so myself, although not too hard really since there is likely a yogic tale or lesson in nearly all aspects of our life. Go and explore and see what you can find!