When we start living yoga, it's not so much that yoga becomes our whole life, but rather we realize that our ordinary, everyday, stressed-out and filled-with-daily-challenges life... IS yoga!
Okay it's confession time. I really haven't done much yoga for about three weeks now. And that's okay. It has to be okay because it's simply how it is, and I could make matters worse by stressing that I haven't had the time lately to get on my yoga mat, but I prefer to relax in the moment, be at ease with 'what is' and remember those sage words of Vanda Scaravelli who said:
"There is beauty in the acceptance of what is"
Now, when I say I haven't done much yoga for the past three weeks, what I mean is that I haven't been on the yoga mat doing my usual routine (which at the moment is the twenty-six postures of the Bikram method) but what I have been doing, is being more present and aware in each moment.
If we can do that... if we can remain present with ourselves no matter what is happening then we are doing yoga. In fact we're doing yoga in it's most fundamental sense of 'union' - of being 'at one' with life itself and all that presents. We're really living yoga.
Too Busy For Yoga
In doing that I noticed a kind of cycle which I suspect could reflect many cycles of life. About three weeks ago, for one reason or another, I just had a really busy spell. There wasn't much time for anything let alone a full 90-minute Bikram workout. Added to that I was feeling really tired and found myself needing to sleep for about 8 hours.
To create time for an early morning 90-minute yoga practice I usually only sleep for 6 hours. So I found myself sleeping longer, and cutting down on yoga. It came down to about an hour, then dropped from Bikram to a few days of Lu-Jong (which takes about 15 minutes). Then stopped altogether. One or two days I went for a walk just to move the body which was now feeling restless and objecting to spending at least 12 hours sitting at a desk!
An Agitated Ego Losing Control
I was also feeling mentally agitated and more than a tad guilty as my mind filled with judgements like, I was 'letting myself go' and other such nonsense (it really is nonsense - any idea that you are 'letting yourself go' is just part of the ego's fantasy that it was in control in the first place)! I (or I should say my ego) was experiencing anger at 'losing control' of the situation, resentment at the lack of 'me time', and of course all topped off with liberal helpings of guilt.
This all built to a head where I had an argument with a friend and realized I was falling back into some very old passive-aggressive patterns again. This caused me to take a long, hard look at myself, and how much I'd been trying to hold on to my idea of how things ought to be. I dropped everything and did some long meditation practice where I focused on letting go. My mind became clearer, and my body felt calmer.
Then as I went about the business of the day, I began accepting what is, and simply being more present. My mind and body began to relax no matter what was going on. The tension began to leave and I found myself being more clear and present in each moment - dealing with whatever arose - without the stress. I found myself just being with it.
I started waking up earlier. Maybe my quality of sleep was better because I was more relaxed, and so I needed less sleep. I started doing just 10 minutes of Lu-Jong before getting into my day, and making sure I took a break at some point to go and walk in the park in silence (a walking meditation).
This morning I woke early - got the yoga mat out and did a half-Bikram routine (just one set for each pose). Yayy! Already my ego-mind is wanting to take control and 'plan' that I'll soon be back in full swing and reaching my 'goal' of being able to do all poses like an ace. But we'll see.
The key to living yoga lies in balancing the reality of our life with how our ego would like it to be! On the mat we know the key to going deeper is to flow into each pose, simply being with the body as it is in the moment. When we transfer that principle off the mat and into our life, where we can flow with life, really being with it as it is, rather than pushing against it, then we are really living yoga!
I'd love to hear your comments below - have you noticed yoga flowing off the mat and into your own life?