PHOTO: Sonia Monteiro of DeRose Antas School, Porto, Portugal
When I first started doing yoga, decades ago, many people thought it was a slightly feminine undertaking. And I have to admit, even today the majority of the students at my local yoga school are women — although that is changing. But the only people who think yoga is not a rigorous, difficult, often even aerobic activity are those who have never taken a class.
I’ll never forget one class I took in which there were three men among about a dozen women. It was a very ordinary, relatively basic class. At one point, the instructor guided us into chaturanga dandasana, the “plank” or staff pose. It’s basically like doing a pushup halfway down — and then holding it. The young woman instructor remained in the pose, calming issuing little tips and giving suggestions, her voice calm and not betraying even a hint of strain. Read more
The first thing I do every morning when I get out of bed is to do 30 pushups. It’s also the last thing I do every night before I climb into bed. That may not sound like a very “yoga” thing to do, but it’s a discipline I adhere to that I believe has been very good for me.
I’m 50 years old so, if you’re younger, you can do more. I will probably gradually work up to 40 or so just to show off but 30 is plenty for conditioning purposes.
To some, 30 may sound like a lot… so I want to share how I worked up to that number. I used a very simple method that I use for most difficult things: I did started with something very easy that I knew I could do: One pushup.
Anthony de Mello, SJ, was a famous Jesuit priest, psychotherapist and seminar leader who sought to fashion a “Christian spirituality in Eastern form.” Anyone interested in Christian Yoga should definitely check out his many books — especially his seminal and fascinating text, Sadhana: A Way to God.
He was born in Bombay in 1931 into a large Portuguese Catholic family whose ancestors were converted by the early Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier. He attended a Jesuit high school and joined the Society of Jesus in India in 1947. Following a typical Jesuit course of studies that included philosophy in Spain, theology in India and psychology in the U.S., De Mello was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1961. Read more