At our old home, Reid and I had the pleasure of forming a friendship with our neighbors of an older generation. In our four years on Oakwood Street in Pasadena, we felt comfort in knowing Marge and Guppy were just down the street. Their house was a throw back to my youth, reminding me of my own grandmother’s house, where the emphasis was far more on creating a feeling of home rather than a shrine to beauty or decor. Filled with family photographs, jazz music, and the smell of whatever Guppy was cooking, their home will always have a special place in my heart.
Guppy lived with congestive heart failure. He knew his days were numbered, yet he took guitar lessons, watched YouTube cooking tutorials, and made his way out into the community as often as possible to keep up with the changing times. For her part, Marge is up on every eco-friendly living option imaginable, composting food, reclaiming water, homesteading their backyard, and installing solar panels. In many ways, they were more “of the times” than we were.
Guppy died about two months after we moved away. I regularly return to Oakwood Street to share morning walks and cups of coffee with Marge. On one such morning, I told her how Guppy’s cooking was indicative of the way he lived. It was an inspiration to me, teaching me that even within your own four walls there was an infinite world to explore. She said, “That’s right, he believed you didn’t have to settle for spaghetti.”
I am reminded of this every time I step onto the eleven square feet of my yoga mat. I can come back to the same thing over-and-over, and I can feel stuck and repetitive in my practice. Or I can remember that I don’t have to settle for spaghetti. Within those eleven square feet is a whole world to explore. My body can move in endless directions; I can find new ways to tap into each muscle; and even if I run out of physical things to explore, the inside of my mind is limitless.
It is quite possible to treat yoga as the spaghetti of your fitness routine. You can come to your mat hoping for something familiar, feel-good, and comforting. Or, you can use your yoga practice as an opportunity to explore and challenge yourself, to get extremely uncomfortable, and to – hopefully – learn something every time.
Our teacher training school, Safe Harbor Yoga School, emphasizes a teacher’s duty to actually teach something every class. Your students can make spaghetti at home. Cook them a meal deserving of Top Chef.
(For example, find a new way to teach them something they’ve heard a thousand times:)