It’s spring break and later this week Neil, Lucien, Salem (our dog) and I will be packing up the car and heading for a long weekend in upstate New York. It will be the first time we’ve left the city since relocating to Brooklyn a few months ago. As much as I love it here, I can’t wait to breathe country air, hike in the woods, see farms and rolling hills and green. We’ll be staying not too far from the small town where Neil and I lived together and were married more than a decade ago. It’s the place where I changed my life—studying yoga philosophy, meditating, beginning a home practice, transforming my lifestyle and diet. As much as I embrace and love and cherish city life, something in me continues to crave the smaller town “country” experience. And, yes, there’s a part of me as a mother that feels like my child should have the freedom and relaxed pace that comes with a more rural life.
Which makes me think:
Is the country more yogic than the city?
The city has yoga teachers and classes galore, the challenge of being pressed up against humanity in the subway, on the street, in our apartment buildings. Incredible food and museums and sidewalk life.
The country has space and quiet and blue sky. Time and room for home practice, for contemplation, for nature walks and relaxed conversations.
There’s a farm on Vancouver Island that we took Lucien to for summer vacation several years in a row. We ate from the garden, made pizza from the cheese of the farm’s water buffalo, woke to roosters and relaxed in the evening to stars. That farm felt like being on the edge of the world. On our own private ashram of sorts. (The animals and trees were our fellow seekers.) In our new life here in Brooklyn, Lucien takes a subway to school and sidesteps garbage on the way to the station. But he sees people—life—everywhere he turns. That feels yogic, too.
Ultimately, I suppose, it’s a question of balance. And so we bring some country (a makeshift garden, a family pet, a walk in a park) to the city, just as others bring some city (a community theater group, a fabulous bookstore or restaurant) to the country. In the end, perhaps, no place is more yogic than any other—it’s all about the spirit you cultivate in your daily life.
Where do you raise your family? And how do you make your environment yogic?
Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse), out in paperback now. She’s spending the year in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and five-year-old son. “Like” her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter. Visit her at www.jessicabergergross.com.