A close shave with Yoga

It sometimes happens in a Yoga class that students new to yoga will watch a seasoned practitioner and become discouraged – yes, even frustrated. A response I often hear is "they must have been born like that". A good way to overcome this frustration with the gap between where you are in your practice and where you’d like to be is to find something you do regularly and take a close look at it. For me, and most men, shaving is a good example. I can’t comment on women’s experience with shaving their legs, I have only tried on a few occasions and was distracted the whole time.

No –one ever says - " Meet Dave – he’s my shaving teacher". Most of us can’t even remember who taught us to shave. I remember vaguely my Dad giving me a few pointers about how to stop the blood flow, but that’s it. But over the years, all of us who shave daily have become shaving Yogi’s. We know just what temperature the water feels best at, what kind of blade works best on our skin and how many strokes to take before washing the blade. We know what direction to move the razor for optimum closeness, how gently to go when we come to a tricky spot – the chin, cheekbones, under the nose. All this we learned -from whom? From your regular shaving practice. This daily practice became refined to the point where you never cut yourself with this razor. Unless of course you are not being mindful.

And so it is with asana practice. Teachers can help point us in the right direction, or offer an interesting sequence of poses. They can watch to make sure our alignment and breath are within acceptable parameters, or just make you laugh if you are taking it all a bit to seriously. But the true yoga, feeling the balance between opening and forcing, knowing just how much is right for you on this particular day, and finding the smile of gratitude growing in you – this no-one can teach. This is only revealed through your regular practice. So next time you shave (your face, your legs – or both), slow down and watch the process. Amaze yourself with your surety of movement, your grace. Watch your facial muscles undulate to accommodate the blade sweeping back and forth, your gaze fixed and your breath even. Then go back to your mat, settle into your first posture and remember it’s just a matter of time.

Dan Clement


Dan is not only a smooth shaver, but he has a silky smooth yoga practice.

He teaches in White Rock.


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