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Spiritual Materialism: This is not yoga

A friend and colleague tells me she's set the intention to get up early and do yoga before coming to work three days a week, inspired by my ability to remain calm as those around us lose their heads and throw them at one another. I'm thrilled. Then she shares that she's doing WiiFit yoga, and that she's having a hard time staying in the yellow circle during balances. I've never shared space with a WiiFit -- I do non-electronic yoga -- so I'm baffled. She explains that you have to stand on a mat-equivalent that senses how much pressure is in each area of your foot and creates a yellow circle on the TV screen; if you're perfectly balanced, you'll be in the yellow circle.


This makes me want to cry. Carefully, because I don't want to discourage anyone from doing something she finds meaningful and that could lead to a broader exploration, I say, "In live yoga, there are no yellow circles."

Life interrupts so I don't get to explain that in live yoga, it doesn't matter if you sway or stand straight -- or even if you put your foot down and start over. What matters is that you notice what is happening and accept it. This is what my balance is like today. Yesterday I could have stood here in a hurricane, but today three seconds is a challenge. Tomorrow we'll see what happens.

I fell in love with yoga during a particularly trying time in my life when class was the only place where I could find relief from my thoughts and judgments. Yoga brought me to Buddhism. I've studied yoga for 10 years with a teacher who draws from every imaginable source to create an eclectic, organic practice, and I've taken teacher trainings with Sarah Powers, who teaches a blend of yin yoga, Buddhism, traditional Chinese medicine, and psychology. 

Staying in the yellow circle is so antithetical to what I value in yoga that I wish they would have called in Wiiga or something to differentiate it from the actual practice.

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Wii Wish You a Happy Fitness

This morning while practicing yoga, your blog post kept going through my mind.  I am a video game enthusiast and collector--that probably had something to do with it.  I reread your post just now, and I thought I'd say I respect your decision not to chastise your friend for her WiiFit practice--at least not in speaking and to her face.

Balance.  We learn to balance by trying to balance.  We do not learn to balance magically.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, "Today, I am going to hold that hand stand for longer than I ever have."  Nothing wrong with feeling completely out of balance and choosing to exert muscle groups, rearrage your skeleton, and focus on your breath so that you can balance.  Nothing wrong with trying that.  Nothing wrong with achieving it.  Nothing wrong with feeling good about it.  Yes, of course, if you cannot do it, love that experience too, but if you want to try, then try away!

So, by golly, let your friend figure out how to stay in the yellow circle.  Just encourage her to stay positive, and to love herself even if she cannot stay in the circle very long.  Eventually she will be in the yellow circle, and she will then _____ and then _____ and then______.  At the end of her WiiFit time, she will have a kind of wisdom that those who did not try WiiFit won't have.

You might also find it fun to go over to her house and try WiiFit out.  See if you can let WiiFit exist in the same world as Sarah Powers.  You will see that they are more similar than you make them seem in your post.  You mentioned that you wanted to cry.  There really is nothing to cry about.  Go play!  It's fun!

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