The new morning habit

I met with a fellow new graduate this week. We caught up on life and work, and of course yoga. We both admitted feeling a bit disconnected with our practice recently. “At least you’ve been doing it, though” was her comment to me. For reasons of life changes and injury she’s not been practising at home at all and class attendance sounded minimal. So, yes, from the outside my practice looks stable. “It’s more physical than it used to be” was my comment on it. I don’t mean that I’m suddenly doing what I think of as ‘circus tricks yoga’ with gravity defying arm balances and all the fancy works. No, just that other aspects of my sadhana have been falling away in the face of teaching prep and bodily maintenance. It’s suddenly become all about physical experiences, refinements, sequencing, anatomy… I do keep a daily meditation practice, but even that feels different, more about setting me up well for other things I want to accomplish. It’s become a maintenance tool more than I’d like. And Sanskrit study and philosophy… Oh, not so much at all.

The balance has shifted. I would no longer dare to call this ‘sadhana’. It feels more like just asana practice. Not bad, just different. But not quite what I want. My friend giggled, recalling my refusal to engage with part of the assessment requirements on our TT course: “that’s not part of my sadhana” I’d told the teacher, who graciously acquiesced and let me do it my way instead. What a nerve! I couldn’t in all honesty say something like that now; whereas then it felt entirely natural!

change-is-hardI know finding my way, my yoga, again will take time. And that’s OK. I’ve got a lifetime. But I’m trying to help myself a little too. My friend and I agreed to start getting up at 6.30 for a few weeks and devote 30 or 40 minutes to yoga each morning, in whatever way we want to. She clearly craves more asana practice, for me maybe this quiet time means something else. We’ll see. She dropped me a note afterwards telling me how much lighter and more joyful she felt having this shared plan. Me too! Because I’m good at going it alone. I’m good at digging in deep, putting my head down and plugging on. But independence and discipline can make for a lonely journey. This plan we hatched together means a lot to me, a shared commitment of mutual support.

I’ve also booked some time with my regular teacher. I usually try not to bother him, and I high-mindedly tell myself that I’m practising all manner of yogic virtues in not taking up his time (I could count it as asteya, aparigraha, ahimsa…). But a TT revelation (so many revelations) was that actually I’m really shy about asking him for help, somehow not feeling worthy of his attention. Not compared to all the other students he looks after. Certainly not until I’ve done all I can to figure stuff out myself. I assume my teacher should be almost my last port of call, rather than my first. Hubby tells me I treat him like a doctoral supervisor: a meeting every few months to check in and review progress, focus on problems I can’t resolve on my own — and then I’m off, armed with some inspiring ideas, a reading list, a deadline to meet. Or the yoga equivalent thereof. Maybe. I don’t know how yoga teachers usually operate — is this a good model or completely weird?

So I sent him a confused blizzard of an email trying to describe what I want to talk about — is it about my own practice or about various teaching difficulties I think I have. He responded that discussion was always good, that we all need support. I guess he read my shyness…

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