In the western world yoga begins on the mat with the asanas (yoga postures) but practicing yoga on a day to day basis extends far deeper than that. Believe me it is a roller coaster of a ride and brings up hidden emotions that you thought were buried deep beneath.
When your body is feeling healthy then the yoga practice on the mat feels marvellous but sometimes it is when your body gets ill that the deeper lessons are learned. (or is it learnt?)
Shingles has kept me off my mat and away from my regular Mysore class for over a week and I have found this incredibly hard. What has been harder is making the decision to not push myself into going to class before my body is ready. I know very well that when I get there I will push myself too hard. It is in my nature, as is an inability to rest (I have learned that this week too).
Ahimsa – My friend reminded me of this yesterday when I was moaning that I felt too exhausted to go to class. Ahimsa is refraining from causing pain to any living creature. Sarah reminded me that this also extends to yourself. Actually Cathy my yoga teacher at Bayoga has reminded me of this when she has seen me force my limbs into lotus when my hips were having an off day. So yesterday I did actually rest for the whole day (I battled with guilt for a lot of it) and I feel much better for it this morning.
Frustration has set in because before the shingles I had achieved dropping back into back bend from standing and bakasana. I feel like I have been knocked back to square one with a tired, achy body that is incapable of these poses. So what is the lesson here? Humility? A reminder that yoga isn’t about how marvellous you look on the mat but about the union between mind and body.
Sarah’s teacher James has talked about the primary series in Ashtanga being yoga chikitsa or yoga therapy and that it works out latent illnesses and physical problems. I have been told by my acupuncturist that I hold stress deeply within my body. I used to vent a lot and be quite a stressful snappy person to know. I am a much calmer person outwardly now but obviously I am holding it somewhere. The deep release that back bends bring is well known so maybe my practice is drawing everything out.
Letting go of ego and listening to your body sound quite simple on paper but in reality they are tough lessons to learn (especially for a control freak like me) So this morning I didn’t go to Mysore class but had a nice gentle practice at home. A few suryas and a couple of forward bends followed by a long meditation. Lets see what tomorrow brings on my mat and not set any personal expectations.
In other news I am going to see the new Die Hard film tonight. Whoop. Die Hard is my guilty cinematic pleasure.