If you are a yogi on Instagram (like me) or on Facebook (unlike me), chances are you’ve seen this play on the yogic term “Namaste”. Since it’s come about I’ve heard it once or twice with regard to the number of hours per week I spend on my yoga mat. I’ve had an especially busy schedule this week, unfortunately leaving little time for practice. For a 7 day per week practitioner, this has been very difficult for me. I had to ask myself, “Am I ‘namas’cray’?”
I’ve spent the day trying to bring awareness to how I may better practice what I preach. In most of my classes, I encourage students to let go of attachments while they are in the yoga room. Regardless of the nature of that attachment, perhaps a frustrating experience that occurred before class, or using the mirror as a critical tool as opposed to an aid, it doesn’t serve us to hold on to it. Yogic philosophy suggests that recognition of the fact that the universe is constantly changing will better enable a student to let go of expectations and attachments. Further, once we can let go of attachments in the outer world we may turn our attention inward to our own inner light which never changes. I began to wonder if my daily physical asana practice is a type of attachment. I turned to one of my favorites in my yoga library, Nicolai Bachman’s “The Path of the Yoga Sutras,” and reread the chapter on “Abhyasa,” or “diligent, focused practice.”
It felt ironic to me that my attachment is that which one should work towards in order to reduce attachment! Bachman is helpful to expand to say that this “focus can occur during physical exercise, breath work, meditation, or even the act of learning a musical instrument or driving a car.” (p. 29) I get on my mat every day, even if it is for 10 minutes at home for a few down dogs or an indulgent child’s pose, but it doesn’t feel the same if I can’t fit in my full practice seven days a week. Being forced to face how this makes me feel has led me to redefine “my” yoga. It also calls to mind my posts on surrender and being present. Letting go or surrendering to outside distractions, truly being “in the moment” means exactly that. Practicing 12 hours of yoga a week only to freak out when a week comes that I can’t maintain that discipline is not better than accepting a week for what it is, recognizing that there are other things that require my time and attention and that those things will sometimes take priority over my time on the mat.
Yoga helps to increase flexibility in the body as well as in the mind. It comes as no surprise that I’ve formed an attachment to my yoga practice given all it’s done and does for me, but there are ways to live my yoga off the mat when I can’t spend as much time as I’d like inside the studio walls. Guiding students through practice in the six classes I’ll teach this week…that is my yoga. Watching and encouraging my daughters in their sports…that is my yoga. Providing a non-judgmental, open ear and doing my best to advise a friend in crisis…that is my yoga. And as always at the very minimum, breathing with intention…that is my yoga.