I’ve been trying to have a day or two without yoga. It’s been a bit intense recently and I’m feeling a bit wary. Or do I mean chary? Either way, I thought consciously stepping back for a short time might be no bad thing.
It’s weirdly harder than you think! Yoga seems to have permeated my days and fills my thoughts even more than I realised. It’s not just something I think about it’s something I act through. I’m certainly not claiming any amazing standards of behaviour in upholding niyama and yama perfectly, but I realise that I approach life now more consciously, with greater awareness, than I used to. That’s surely Yoga.
I noticed this when I was working in the garden today. I was so aware of scents, sounds, and feel of things under my fingers. It’s as though all my senses have had a tune-up. The blackbird’s alarm call from the garden wall, the cloud of tiny flies dancing in the sunbeams under the ash tree, the smell of the dry soil, different textures of leaves. This was all quite groovy and pleasant as I pulled up weeks and dug around in the soil. But the concern for the woodlice I’d made homeless was a bit odd, as were the tender feelings I felt towards the bedding plants I was putting out. Since when did I become so sentimental about these forms of life? The garden seemed an ecosystem not simply in a theoretical sciencey way, but as a network of plants and animals all living their tiny lives in community, dependent on one another. And I was playing god in choosing to pluck some plants out of the ground and replace them with other varieties.
I took more care than I ordinarily would have done with my work, savouring the experience in all its aspects. I grinned a bit to myself as I recalled being on retreat a few years ago where I was given various horticultural tasks. I kept asking for more work until eventually I was told that wasn’t the point: I wasn’t there to be productive or achieving. I was then sent back outside and told just to sit with the plants, to really look at them and get close to them. I did it, but felt nothing — other than slightly self-conscious! Today I think I almost understood what was being asked of me then.