It’s true summer time as a student is ROUGH. Folks travel and stay out late. It is arguably the easiest season to fall off the wagon. I too haven’t had as much time to practice in the morning because I love sitting on the deck! Who wants to go to bed early when you’re being called outside by the warm sun? If you’re in need of some yoga inspiration, perhaps rethinking your time on the mat can help...
I'm almost finished with David Garrigues’ “Yoga Sutras Book 1 Summer Course” and fireworks have been exploding in my brain. He demystifies the connection between the physical asana practice and the guidelines in the Sutras' text. He discusses the recipes for stopping thought, realizing one’s true nature and discovering our unique purpose in this life. WHOA. I could discuss this for hours and with some of you I have. Some of you have walked right in as I am processing this information and I blurt out an unpacked phrase, perhaps sounding even a little crazy.
I used to hear the phrase “The mat is a mirror of your life.” I would think….hmm interesting. Yeah, okay…makes sense. I’m being lazy during X and so therefore I’m probably not paying attention somewhere in my life blah blah..
I am here to tell you that I am now ENRAGED by this phrase (thank you DG.) As David puts it, the mat is a laboratory or a training ground to learn how to use your body and your mind. You have dedicated time each day to practice higher levels of thoughts such as meditation on the breath or arranging your body along the imaginary central axis so that you can dispel all thought. Thoughts that are often fueled by desire and suffering (among others.) Your mat is a training ground to practice positive thought patterns that directly influence your thought patterns the rest of the day. THIS IS HUGE! This is not a passive practice. This is not simply exercise.
Yoga and in our case the Ashtanga practice assumes that we all have these problems, desires and pitfalls in our nature that cause us to think that we are only our body and our memories. Instead, the Ashtanga practice is intelligently designed to awaken your awareness to the one unchanging piece in you, your true self. To separate what changes from what doesn’t. And we can realize this through the simplest series of postures. You don’t have to do your whole freaking practice every day. This is training so you can get out of the illusion that you are your body or your suffering. This practice has the potential to elevate your thinking and bring about wellness in your body too.
This is YOUR practice. The work is up to YOU. You have to face suffering and look at what is real and true. You are not doing a pose because ahhhhh this feels so good or this music really jives with this flip-dog. This is your life right here in every moment and there is no time to waste. When you practice, each jump out or inhale is an opportunity to align yourself to the truth, to the awakened unchanging self. So, no. No mirror. No mere reflection. Train yourself to elevate your understanding. With that, you are RESPONSIBLE for taking that into your life and applying it. To be an example around others and to react with compassion and joy, which the sutras say are finer thoughts than anger. You are encouraged to find your purpose. I’m stating this to you but I am even more so writing this for me too. I needed to hear this through this summer course. To remind myself that I am lucky to have found this lineage that is designed for me to discover my truth.
Thank you David Garrigues for always expanding my understanding. I sure am looking forward to his visit in April :)