Yoga teaches us wise choices and less instinctual reactions. Whatever the ‘union’ of yoga is, my pragmatic understanding is that it’s about achieving a balance of opposites to find a place of greater stability and therefore greater ease. Āsana teaches us that on a basic level in the requirement for strength with flexibility, twisting with integrity, movement and stillness and so on. We must find it also in yama and niyama also, otherwise we are in danger of becoming fanatics unable to function normally in the world.
Today, one day on from the Brexit referendum, I’m still in a state of shock and unable to look beyond my instinctual reaction that this is a bad idea of epic proportions, that it will have repercussions across Europe, and indeed the world far into the future. I feel saddened and embarrassed by the way this has turned out.
I’ve not been able to shake myself out of this emotional swing by any intellectual reasoning. On my way to work I took solace in the fact that my neighbourhood has been festooned with IN posters, and from conversations with strangers on the street and colleagues at work I feel happily surrounded by kindred spirits. On my home patch at least I feel I belong and that we’re facing this unwelcome new dawn together. But there’s no balance here; we’re all just reinforcing the same feeling.
After work yesterday I headed off to class, and never has the prospect of restorative yoga felt so welcome. I usually find this class a massive challenge, where mind and body don’t play along in the way I feel they should — all brain chatter and tense muscles.
But yesterday’s class was different. I really welcomed this quiet space, finding refuge rather than confrontation. I was relieved rather than frustrated that all I had to do was take simple shapes, supported by props, and then gently find my place within them over the course of 10 or 15 minutes. So simple really. Why the habitual struggle? This is a safe place.
So although I’m taught that yoga isn’t about escaping from reality and isn’t about withdrawing from life, just this once I let that teaching go and enjoyed a 90 minute retreat from a mad reality. This isn’t an achievement of harmonious balance or even an acceptance of the new state of the world, but yoga also teaches patience so that will come in time. 90 minutes of denial is the best I can achieve for now.