Why we should all do more yoga by an NYU girl who does

I’m not just talking to girls who drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes

It’s not hard to find a yoga studio in the East Village — just sniff out some incense and listen for the new age music.

But while studios are on every corner of New York, many are merely fitness regimes hiding behind a yoga mat.

In a society of scarcity — never enough sleep, never enough hours in the day to get everything done and never enough coffee to fuel ourselves — the ability to be entirely present is rare.

The author in Kukkutasana or rooster pose at Union Square

At NYU, there’s always homework to be done, office hours to attend and reading to be completed. If yoga allows us to slow down it surely must be worth a try.

But first allow me to define what I mean when I say “yoga”.

I’m not talking about a workout: the intention is not to burn the maximum amount of body fat or to tone desired muscle groups.

Author ‘working a corner’ in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana or hand-to-big-toe pose

True yoga is not exhibitionism for lean bodies in leggings — if you want to show off your handstand you will find yourself better suited to gymnastics. Yes, I too first stretched my boundaries — and body — in the yoga world to showcase my newest sporting attire.

Yoga is about balance, but balance means so much more than defying gravity in order to perfect a headstand. Real yoga must find the balance between physical-obsession and self-righteous “spirituality”.

Avoid the classes attended by those who avoided shaving their armpits in the name of the “natural”. Yogis are not Sanskrit-speaking downward dogs marking their territory not with urine but with cacophonous barks of “aum”.

True teachers don’t ask their students to “breathe through your heels” or “make the back of your thighs smile”.

In my experience, it doesn’t matter if you can see out the window that it’s started raining and you’ve forgotten your umbrella (again) as you put your shoes next to the sign which reads “leave your shoes and your worries here”.

Listen to the sign and decide that you’ll cross that damp bridge when you get to it — now you are doing yoga.

Time ceases to exist in a good yoga class, you forget about your anxieties, you forget about your assignment deadlines, your unanswered emails and the increasingly panicked messages from your mother to which you have yet to reply — all the things for which the twenty-four-hour clock doesn’t allow.

The only unit which exists here is breath. Hold yourself in this posture for five breaths. Not five seconds. Not five minutes. And even this is as flexible as the woman at the front of the class — if you are uncomfortable you can retire early.

Author in wheel pose in Washington Square Park

And when the yoga teacher turns on the lights at the end of the final resting pose (or Savasana for the yogis among you), the clock starts ticking again, seemingly doubly as fast, as if to make up for lost time. The incense once again chokes you. Namaste and that will be sixteen dollars. Seems like a reasonable price to me. And they said money couldn’t buy time.