Friday, 30 April 2010

Faith and what yoga is to me

I have been thinking about, what it's all about? not life, the universe but this practice which gets me to step onto the mat every day.  It's a big question, such a big question that I'm almost reluctant to start writing even when I'm thinking about it, it makes me feel dizzy, I find myself looking at it from too many points of view. Too much thinking!

I have been thinking about it purely in terms of my own experience rather than basing my answer on what I have read or learnt.  I remember feeling many years back that yoga brought me back to me, it unravelled me.  My job at the time did the opposite so there was this seesaw effect.  Now my life and who I am feel fully integrated, I am who I am.  I am very grateful for the clarity that my life brings.  My yoga practice is still unravelling me, the unravelling is deeper and strips me of all identity at times. As discussed in previous posts about emotional release, this year has been pretty intense work on letting go of some of the deeper emotions that are stored in my body.

This unravelling allows me to be more present, in this presence I get glimpses of the unity and oneness in the chaos.   Yoga helps me respond better in the moment, to stay calm and yet alert.  So many things does yoga do for me, ultimately I guess it enhances my experience of everything else by making me more present.

Susan mentioned faith in the practice on her blog recently.  It made me realise how much faith I have in ashtanga.  There are familiar themes of the ashtangi psyche that come up again and again, especially if you get a group of astangi's together.  Craving new postures, lamenting on lack of progress in whatever, for me at the moment I guess if I'm being honest is I want more poses.  As the years have progressed then I guess perspective helps.  I was obsessed with mari D years ago for instance, but now I garb my wrist every day.  If a pose feels impossible, I know it will one day become possible.  I also know that this is definitely not what my practice is for, I mean what real life use does binding in mari D have?  However, I feel that my drama that I sometimes create in my head around my practice, is part of what the practice is teaching me.  I want more poses, so I am not fully accepting where I am.  However, I have never tried to suppress or change these feelings,  I have always been accepting of them.   I have complete faith that my practice will unravel them for me.  I am grateful for these unenlightened thoughts because through them I face myself.

I could write much more on this but perhaps I will save it for another day or the comments.


  1. I think our relationship to and reasons for doing practice change with time. It grows on you and becomes part of your being, though Kino told us last week that perhaps we should not be defined by our practice instead of who we are.

    "Life use in binding Mari D", well the first time you do it brings a satisfaction, joy and elation, which is completely unfathomable to someone who doesn't practice, but is understood completely by your fellow ashtangi's.

    For me practice has become a part of my life and makes life off the mat possible to endure, even when some of my nearest and dearest still can't get their head round me getting up at 5am on a Sunday to go into the city to practice

  2. Hi kevin, you are right our relationship with the practice changes all the time. That's what made this post so hard to write, it is just a snap shot. Great advise from kino yet again. You use the word bearable about your life, if it really is that bad maybe you should change it. Every moment counts.

  3. P.s I really hope that last comment was not to up front. It really is not up to me what you do. I think life is wonderful and it saddened me to think of you bearing it like some burden. Anyways you definately had an amazing time in Thailand, looking forward to catching up next week.

  4. Thailand was amazing, I got far more from it than I expected, especially with being forced to take off the 2 weeks leading up to it.

    Life off the mat is not great, I feel trapped to some extent by the situation at home and I am just marking time with the job until it finishes next year.To some extent I have made my bed and have to accept it, but the joy of life does seem to come down to time spent on a 6ft long blue mat, when I actually feel like I am where I want to be doing something I want to do.

  5. Kevin I'm with Helen, I just have to wonder if there's a way that you can change things rather than marking time as you put it...we have one life & all that, but I know this is easy to say when you don't know all the ins and outs of a situation.

    I really love this post though Helen, you sum up so perfectly what I wish I could express. I reached a point a few months ago where I realised that I was allowing yoga to define me and made an active decision to step away from that. Weirdly I have been practising more frequently since I made that choice, but I feel like my life has a bit more balance. I definitely know what you mean about value of Mari D (or whatever it may be) and as Kino said in Edinburgh (hello Kino fanclub) it's actually the process of getting to a pose that's the yoga, not achieving the pose in itself.

  6. It's why I hope my Mysore plan comes off. There needs to be a fundamental change, having no enjoyment or fullfillment from work, when work takes up such a big proportion of life has a lot to do with it. It almost drains me of energy. I so admire people who leave School knowing exactly what they want to do and go do it. I had no idea and still don't, and even if I did its too late now, so I have drifted doing different things over the years.

    But while I wait for Mysore, I am reliant on my practice and the wonderful Sanga of yoga friends who make me feel alive.

  7. Hi Kevin and Mel,

    Kevin, you can change your mind at any time and change your life as a result. So yes you can stick at your job and then go to Mysore. You could also change jobs sooner. It is a choice, only you can make it, but it is a choice.

    Obviously when your going to change, you need to know to what. Make a list of things you enjoy doing. It doesn't have to be a dream job, the job. It just has to something you can get some satisfaction from.

    Yes, we spend a lot of our lives working but ultimately, happiness is not extrinsic. The value we place on things comes from within, I'll try and remind myself of this when I wash up :)

    In this way your yoga practice is of more use than the perfect career.

    Mel, really glad you like the post, it was a post that had to be written and helped me clarify my thinking. Sorry you won't be there to catch up next weekend. I am coming for 10 days next month whoo hoo!

  8. Helen You put things so well, I am in a situation now where it looks like *my* planned trip to Mysore might have to go on the back-burner, I had a feeling of panic at first but now I am just trying to see that however things unfold, it will be exactly as they are supposed to. I want to avoid pinning my whole future happiness on one planned trip because after that trip my whole life will still be waiting for me. No doubt we can continue this discussion over breakfast - I actually will be around next week now Helen, it's the silver lining of having to go to the funeral next thursday which of course I'm not looking forward to, but I am happy that I won't miss the catch-up!

  9. Hi Mel, you put things pretty well yourself too. I guess we only ever really have this moment to experience. Hope the the funeral goes as well as can be expected. Looking forward to our catch up too. Are we meeting Susan aswell?