By Jeff Bunn
Yoga is my ritual of choice. I first came to the practice (or rather, it came to me) through sheer serendipity, at the age of 58. Once-a-week classes during lunch hour at work became twice-a-week lunch hour classes at a nearby club. Which led to four-times-a-week, including an early morning class and a class on Saturday. Now I am a certifiable, seven-days-a-week, yoga studio nutcase.
I enjoy the physical discipline, which serves my need for exercise. I enjoy the faces and the places and the spaces that my practice has led me to experience, which serves my need for adventure. I also enjoy the abiding sense that I have become – I think – a better person. Aside from the obvious kinds of things I’ve learned (my left leg is misaligned and my balance is a lot more tenuous than I had thought), I have learned a healthy dose of humility. I also have learned that even when I feel strong in my yoga practice, I like to use props – even though that may seem counterintuitive.
My personal favorite prop is one that is all too often overlooked, even though it is literally all around us: the wall. Or, as one of my favorite teachers half-jokingly refers to it, “the wall of shame.”
The wall can help create sound muscle memory, help focus attention on aspects of particular poses that are sometimes ignored and, for old timers like me, can minimize or eliminate the aspect of balance, so we can focus on the shape and/or strength of certain poses.
My personal favorites when working the wall are the three Warrior poses, but it can also be a tremendous prop to help work on the other poses like Ardha Chandrasana (“half moon”), Trikonasana (“triangle”) or Uttitha Parsvakonasana (“extended side angle”).
Yoga has helped me with personal transformation. I have become a better listener and a lot more curious about the power of conscious movement, meditation and mindfulness. I am also considering how those things might be better incorporated into a traditional yoga practice, or better marketed to the wider community of Baby Boomers. Yoga has made me a better attorney. I’ve even thought about how meditation and mindfulness might be incorporated into a law school curriculum – or any professional program – for that matter.
For me, the practice of yoga has opened up more than just my body. It has also opened up my mind, my receptiveness to new ideas and new experiences, and yes – dare I say it – has opened up my heart. That’s not an easy thing for a 60-year-old guy to say, especially one who has been practicing law in the Loop longer than most younger yogis and yoginis have been alive.