Yo, the Yoga Bear

Since starting the practice of yoga, I’d realized that there’s a yoga world out there: with blogs, and vlogs, and podcasts, and movies, and Tv shows, radio shows, tedEx talks, commercials, magazines, workshops, schools, courses, diplomas, yoga retreats, all kind of yoga events; an entire world with people doing yoga on a daily basis, talking about the meaning of yoga, about its origin, its principles, about centering and breathing, about chakras and subtle energies, about the perfect moment or place for doing yoga, with people aspiring to accomplish the perfect posture, the perfect alignment for the best benefits or for an awesome photo that will make an impression on social media; a world with people doing yoga on mats, of rubber or jute, personalized, non-slippery, ecological, organic, with people using top yoga brands for their outfits, props, towels, attending the best yoga studios, equipped with with best mats, best yoga bells and Tibetan bowls, having the best yoga teacher that uses the best yoga music, and the perfect yoga sequence followed by the best shavasana in town, talking about yoga benefits and living a yogic lifestyle, with yogic tea, yogic food, using yoga incense sticks, and, now and then, practicing yoga with goats, yoga with beers, and what not, as nowadays people need new and diverse things before anything else.

Being caught in this swirling yoga world, I had once tried to attain a close to perfect posture during a yoga class and I managed to tear apart my right hamstring. And that was the moment when I had realized that a change of perspective was in order. Even if I like yoga, or the idea of it, very much, I felt that something was not right with the way “the city” was practicing it. Not for me, at least. So I went out, into the wild, to find a different kind of yoga mentor then the ones I’d met till then.

And I did. After wandering to and fro for months, I had finally found Yo, the yoga bear, in a forest near my home town. Life is like that! We wander in searching for something all over the world, only to find it, after years and years, when that something had already lost its meaning, in our backyard. There are actually many things in our backyard – or in our front yard – but because they are so close and present, we oversee them and we search for them in the wide world, sometimes for a lifetime. Well… in my case it didn’t take so long, as I was lucky to find Yo after only several months. He had no definitions, no labels for anything, let alone for yoga. And he had no perfect rubber mat that he had to pay for in order to throw it away as soon as it would had become slippery. The earth was his mat. I lived more than an year with Yo and I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I’ve learned to live simple, with the thick moss carpet as my bed and the trees’ canopy as my roof, to eat only as much as I needed and mostly vegan. He thought me to be kind and understanding, especially with the bad ones; not to hurt anyone, not even an ant, neither physically, nor emotionally (and, yes, ants can be emotionally hurt); not to tell lies, except when dealing with foxes, as foxes use the truth for mean purposes and, therefore, in such situations, an alteration or reinterpretation of the truth would be best for the general good. He thought me how to connect myself to the trees’ souls, to the flickering stars, to the upside down sleeping bats or to the sightless earthworms, to everything; he taught me how to travel the world by riding a pale of wind or a crocodile-shaped cloud (not all clouds are suitable for traveling the world), or how to dissolve myself into the mists of dawn, becoming invisible so I can spy the shy fawns drinking water from the lake. He thought me how to find my inner light. One day, after one of his inspiring lessons, I started to glow. Literally. Like a firefly. Well, at least my right side did. I must work some more on the left one. I guess I still have some issues to resolve before glowing completely. And he thought me to love everyone and everything, to be content and grateful for simple things, for what I have: even for my unglowing left side, even for the birthmarks that I have and I used to hate. He told me that my skin is the sky and the birthmarks on it are the stars. Wow! I have my own galaxy on my body and it took me so many years and a bear to see it! I named it YoGalaxy.

As for the yoga postures, he didn’t teach me many, as he only knew several. He was a different kind of yogi. But there was one pose that we did daily: the Bear Balancing Pose, as we, humans, call it. He didn’t know the posture’s name. He was just doing it. And I with him. Together, happy and content and, of course, balanced. And this is the story of this painting that started with a torn hamstring.

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful, happy day!

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