When people ask me how long I practise yoga each week, I’m usually pretty evasive, second-guessing the response I think I’ll get. I usually down-play it, since most people look perturbed at the idea of daily practice. And even in the company of serious students/teachers I also hesitate to make my practice sound too heavy fearing the assumptions that all the time is spent in āsana practice — and that I should therefore be ‘better’ than I am! My practice has always been broader than that, but it’s not something that’s so easy to talk about. I guess in modern western yoga it might be more like what passes for sādhana, rather than an exercise regime.
Just recently I’ve made really generous space for practice at home, deliberately loosening the time restrictions and allowing myself more time to explore. It’s been wonderful. Longer time for moving towards and away from āsana practice in chanting, meditation or simple reflection is really important for me, I realise. Moving suddenly into or out of practice throws me seriously off balance. It’s my pet hate about going to class — there’s no time for a slow transition. I need to sit quietly digesting afterwards and there’s no space in a busy studio. I just don’t understand how other students can jump up straight off their mat and get on with life, instantly full of chatter, their minds already on the next event. I often feel as though I can’t imagine wanting to speak ever again!
I’d like to think this state is something like pratyāhāra, but that’s a bit grand and it’s probably simple fatigue for the most part! But I’ve had other pratyāhāra experiences recently. We’ve just started looking at Pāṇini’s rules of sandhi (how words join together) and pratyāhāra turns out to be a technical term for the way Pāṇini describes groups of phonemes. I don’t know if it’s the same word quite, but it always amuses me when I make links between my Sanskrit lessons and my yoga practice.
I liked it the other week when I’d been beginning to practise Ardha Candra Cāpāsana and I then read the word cāpam (a bow) in the Bhagavad Gītā. Small coincidences help knit my practices together. They definitely amuse my Sanskrit teacher when I tell him something about yoga-world; on the other hand, I fear my yoga teacher wishes I’d stop criticising the Sanskrit pronunciation I hear around the studio! Contemplating cāpam made me think of the other word for ‘bow’ as found in Dhanurāsana — but now I realise the pronunciation I hear (dan yoor assana) is way off. I think I’ll keep that small wisdom to myself 🙂