Golf and yoga are similar in many ways.
I am a golf fan. I love so many things about it. I have been heavy into golf for longer than I've been dedicated to the yoga practice. One of the biggest aspects that I love about golf is that the folks who play, overwhelmingly learn about, pay tribute to, honor, love, and respect the history and tradition of the game.
I was once one of those people who just dabbled. I would go out to play with friends, and it was certainly more about playing with friends than the game itself. I had no real knowledge of the history and tradition, except for that which was being made at that time. Think Tiger, circa 97. I was content sporting the newest gear and equipment. I looked up to those who had a mastery of the game and a swagger to match.
I was at some point, falling victim to the mind-made sense of self associated with a natural talent and success of physical execution. I was all-consumed. I played enough that I lost some weight. Health and fitness became associated with getting in "golf shape". I didn't watch the news, I watched "Golf Central". I didn't pay as much attention to other activities that I enjoyed. I practiced putting in my office during lunch. Countless times, conversations with friends and clients alike, gravitated towards golf or how whatever was being talked about related to golf. Beautiful days, became "perfect days for golf". Golf courses became beautiful places of refuge, where strangely enough, I began to see myself. By way of the game, I began to tune into a side of myself that was all about mind-body control, and dare I say it had a spiritual effect as well. I found concentration, breath control, mental stillness, physical stamina and intention to be absolutely crucial to "success".
Then I met a guru of sorts.
I played a round with 3 strangers, one of which was an older man and a black guy, which at the time, still felt rare. He had game, swagger, and a barbell moustache- even more rare, right?! He had that steady demeanor, simultaneously light and grounded.
Anyway, I was young and dumb. Thought I was really doing something cool; I was completely caught up in performance, and I was emotionally up or down based on that performance. I remember hitting a bad shot, reaching into my bag, dropping another ball and redeeming myself, or so I thought.
I had just disregarded rules, not to mention tradition. I had just chosen the side of non-acceptance of the fact that my game wasn't as good as I thought it should be. It sounds silly now to even think that redemption was supposed to come from cheating. I didn't seem to care about anything related to the etiquette, rules or tradition, as long as I could "have fun". I lived in fear of the horrible score (no fun), and just as much, fear of the eventual end of the round itself (no fun, unless I performed really well).
So, after I hit this awesome shot onto the green, my guru sauntered over to me and we walked together. "What do you think you're doing?", he said. There I was, ego-activated, and ready to defend my right to have fun. I came up with some bullshit, and his 3-word response sticks with me to this day.
"That ain't golf."
Here, I pay it forward. If you want to discuss the current state of the yoga practice or anything related to it, that's cool, even fascinating. I love to hear others' perspectives. Without offense, you should know that I'm probably going to call it like it is... possibly in short, 3-word sentences.