Yoga Wonderland - Ch 1

Preface

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a multi-dimensional sacred text that offers spiritual truths in a way that keeps me playing in Wonderland each time a read a passage. My inner-child knows how to wander through imaginary nonsensical lands and make up my own rules.

On the other hand, as a yogi, I have always found the stories of Hindu mythology far too complicated and confusing. Their epic mythologies are, well, just that, epic. I cannot relate to the carnage and dragon slaying of the Mahabharatha. To me, the imaginary world of a hookah smoking caterpillar and a Mad-Hatter’s tea table are far more intriguing than the endless wars and battles over morality of Hindu mythology.

In 2012, I re-read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (and every year since) and found myself writing copious notes in the margins detailing my thoughts about the symbolism of the creatures and characters in the novel and their parallels to concepts I learned on my yoga mat.

My 2012 yogi’s log entries marked a turning point in my home yoga practice. That was the year I unlocked the tiny door to my own personal Yoga Wonderland. My practice shifted from a mundane daily to-do task to something I ABSOLUTELY LOVE AND CRAVE EVERY DAY! YOGA WONDERLAND is such an amazing place where every practice I discover out-of-the-way-things and where never-expected-occurrences happen. IT. IS. SO. MUCH. FUN!!!

Down the Yoga Rabbit Hole

Practice with Yoga Teachers

Falling Down the Yoga Rabbit Hole

Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

I was nine years old when I tried my first yoga pose, not much older than Alice was when she followed her White Rabbit. My body was still limber enough to put my foot behind my head and stick my tongue out at my parents while pretending to be a turtle. Yoga was a game I played on the family room floor in the mid 1980s, looking to a simple black and white picture book as my guide. By the time I hit adolescence, I outgrew the game and shelved my copies of The Children’s Garden of Yoga and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, picking up Carrie by Stephen King and Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews instead.

Fifteen years later, I fell down the yoga rabbit hole once again. My White Rabbit, masquerading as my cardio-kickboxing instructor, invited me to try her yoga stretch class that was scheduled after my favorite Wednesday night cardio-kickboxing class. Twenty minutes after punching and kicking an invisible opponent, I found myself playing like a dog, soaring like an eagle, and standing atop the world’s highest mountain. I tumbled, quite literally, head over knees over shoulders, down the yoga rabbit hole. Less than halfway through that very first yoga class, I knew I couldn’t climb my way back out, nor did I want to. Yoga was far more fun than right hooks, upper-cuts, and roundhouse kicks. I wasn’t fighting anymore. I was playing!

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.

For me, chasing a White Rabbit down the yoga rabbit hole was a swift fall into a lifelong passion that is now so deeply knitted into the threads of my bone marrow that it is now a part of my being.

Very quickly after my first class with my kickboxing instructor, a second White Rabbit came hopping through the tunnels. I followed that second yoga instructor to my first class in an actual yoga studio to a world where upside-down is natural, left feels like right, and backward is the same as forward.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything: then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book- shelves: here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs.

Presently she began again. “I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it’ll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards!

As Alice felt the hole might not have a bottom, I wondered if the ninety-minute class might never end. Like Alice mused about the various oddities on the shelves of the rabbit hole walls, I mused about the strange atmosphere of the yoga studio: the statue of the man with an elephant head, the unique scent of nag champa incense, and the foreign sounds of Sanskrit chanting.

But most of all, I was fascinated by the colors.

That first yoga class in a yoga studio was like the White Rabbit took me down a tunnel that led to the yellow brick road of technicolor dream world. Perhaps it was the delirium from the over-hot room, but I remembered something else about being a child, I remembered a sight I’d had that I’d spent most of my grow-up years ignoring.

Around the time I was playing with tortoise pose on the living room floor with my parents, I discovered I had a rare ability to see auras. My parents had been taking a series of intuitive development self-awareness courses. When my dad described to my ten-year-old self that people have colors dancing around them as expressions of their moods and thoughts, I laughed and described his to him in great detail. For much of my teenage years, long after I’d given up yoga after being teased about my passion for it at summer camp, my dad and I played a different game. A game of “what color do you see.” Throughout my adolescence, I practiced and developed this third eye sight as just something fun I did with my dad. But once I got to college, I put that game on the same shelf in the back of my bedroom closet with a handmade ouija board.

In that Bikram yoga class in 2001, for ninety-minutes of twenty-six poses, each performed twice, I watched a laser light show of auras beam around the room like a kaleidoscope. With each pose, the light show changed. I watched bubbles and arrows escape my instructors mouth and float around the room landing in and on the students, changing their colors into clearer images. My yoga instructor kept prodding me to look at my own eyes in the mirror, but I was having too much fun chasing the light beams through the looking glass to pay her much mind.