Where to begin. I could never have expected to have so much happen in one day when you spend 95% of that day in the same room with the same people. I am constantly receiving gifts of incredible wisdom from my teachers. You see - yoga is not just about asanas. This is a very shallow way of thinking about this beautiful practice. Yoga dates back thousands of years and the philosophy of yoga is so very complex that you could spend your entire life studying it and still not fully understand. Our philosophy teacher has done exactly that.
One of the most important lessons i took away from today, is that yoga is all about the presence of the mind and any technique that relaxes the mind is considered yoga. Think about that for a moment… Without this presence, we cannot achieve - whether that be a posture or something else in our lives. We must be present in order to ‘reach the peak’. One of the key ways of doing this is through the breath. It is the breath that represents the presence of the mind. Simple concept, but so powerful and one to contemplate.
The yoga sutras are a joy to learn about. Although mind boggling (always), I tend to hobble out of these classes filled with questions - trying to better understand the interpretations of each of the sanskrit words. Today, phrase 30 caught my attention mostly. Essentially it talks of all the challenges we as yoga practitioners and teachers face when doing yoga. There is disease, doubt, dullness, laziness, craving for enjoyment, erroneous perception, false perceptions, inability to achieve better, not obtaining, distractions of the mind… just to name a couple. The idea of Patanjali (who wrote the sutras) listing these problems is that we can challenge our 'enemy’ by knowing them. Only then can we overcome these problems.
I think all of the above was an issue for me today. For example, my new found sense of release in my legs and hips yesterday was certainly gone today. Today, I was in agony. My hips were on fire and my back felt as though it was breaking (this is just from sitting!). I wriggled from one sitting posture to another (keeping within the positions we are allowed to do) but nothing helped. At one stage, during pranayama (breathing), I thought I was going to vomit the pain was so bad. You just want to give up and run away in those moments. When I got back to my apartment for lunch and spoke with Owen, I just burst into tears.
Today I have felt weak, drained, bruised, sore… the list could go on. I found it dreadfully hard to focus on my studies at lunch today. For example, what I would normally do in 10 minutes took an hour. I’m not sure what came over me today, but it was just one of those days where everything seemed like a struggle. Like I was sinking in quicksand and had nothing to pull myself out with. Asana classes this morning and night weren’t too bad - it was the sitting, and mostly the state of mind.
So again, philosophy class is so interesting as these sorts of challenges are often brought up in one form or another, highlighting that it is through these challenges that we as yogis will seek the reward. But we must experience them first. Our teacher also described an analogy of a mango tree to help us understand this concept. He said, “at first, when you plant the seed, you must give it a lot of attention and work to make it grow. Then in 5 years it begins to fruit and over the years it will naturally, and without much effort, continue to give fruit - but this can only be achieved because the hard work was done at the beginning.” I’m not sure if my seed is even in the ground yet. I think mine got thrown on a concrete path or something because the growth seems very stunted at the moment???
This leads me onto another important point I noted today. Today’s world is so rushed so people want results quickly and without effort (i’m guilty of this). It just cant happen this way. Its not possible to receive the results you desire without putting effort in. I am hoping to really embrace this concept and remember it always. Because only then will the true rewards come.
You see people in yoga classes trying to force themselves into full postures - without feeling it first and making sure the technique is correct and safe. This is a perfect example of a lack of patience. Or the alternative is, its too hard and people quit. I intend to work hard at being a more patient person and in doing so, passing this on to my students also.
Moving more toward this morning’s class and my 'near death’ experience in class (of course i’m being factious) - never before have I felt as much pain and exhaustion as what I did this morning doing Surya Namaskara (sun salutations). Turns out when you actually learn how to do this practice it will near destroy you (at first). Of course there is absolute beauty in what this practice achieves for the mind and body - but what is phenomenal is how one simple change (to how you move into, out of or hold an asana) can make ALL the difference. The sweat was dripping off my head and we did 3 rounds! All I could hear was people panting and taking short breaths trying to maintain the postures for the eternity we were made to hold them.
We have such a wonderful teacher who has amazing knowledge of yoga. His understanding of the asanas and how the body is to move into and out of them is incredible. My body is now moving in ways it never had - but the asanas are all the same. So how can this be? Well, lack of proper technique in the first place and, I think, a disconnect with the body and how it is feeling / moving. I am learning to feel everything activate from my little toe to every vertebrae in my spine. By stopping and listening, one can learn great things about their body - often quite confronting things - but at least its real right?
Well, its time for bed. We get a sleep in tomorrow. He has taken pitty on us and given us a later start at 6am! Woo hoo!