I am a stress addict and this runs contrary to perhaps every Yoga teaching that promotes release and letting go. This also means that even in making myself surrender to the moment, I get stressed out about it. An example of my inner monologue runs something like this: 'am I 'in the moment enough?', 'by thinking whether I'm 'in the moment' am I not being 'present?' etc. Often I COULD choose a moment on the mat to center and find some 'om' time but my reflexes are trained to constantly check my email and worry about something or other. It is frustrating moments like these that make me reflect on what it is I am holding onto and why it is that I expect so much from my practice. As I lie in Savasana I lie wondering if my practice has made any difference to my 'vibrations' or if doing x number of vinyasa's have made me any less stressed...and then it is time to get up, class is over.
Maybe it is the expectation of Yoga that detracts from the actual self-actualising and awesome potential of the practice itself. In a society where instant-gratification is the default mode of operation, where the answers to weight issues or image issues are found at the bottom of a pill bottle or a quick visit to a doctor, our expecations to the healing process of Yoga has in itself become that of instant aspiration. Both in terms of image...
|Christy Turlington Vogue, 2002|
|Christy Turlington ,Time Magazine, April 2001|
And in terms of practice as a direct path to true enlightenment and peace, where stepping on the mat immediately means going into 'yoga mode' of being present, being focused and being, well, a yogi.
|' Anywhere I lay my manduka is home': A screen capture from Manduka's Website. This image is purely meant for visual substation, not in anyway meant to be a slur against Manduka- I love their mats and admire what they stand for.|
Whilst I am certain this is true, there are moments where I feel alienated from the practice. I let the idea of ' Yoga' detract from the true practice of Yoga. Today on the tube, somewhere between Green Park and Bond Street I entered a spontaneous moment of introspection that suddenly felt like I was meditating. Suddenly all the noise of the train was silenced and turning inward I suddenly felt a wave of pure contentment glow from within. However brief that moment was, it felt like hours and I was reminded then and there, that Yoga is everywhere. For once in some time, I felt that even if my mat practice hasn't been an easy ride recently, it is only one aspect of realizing your best self. Bringing the self back to these moments of unexpected 'wholeness' in the most unexpected of places and the most random of times, I remind myself that Yoga is always there.Whether it is finding five minutes on the tube to empty my mind, or having a moment where I share a laugh with a good friend, it is the practice of surrender that I find affirmation to the presence of Yoga in my life.
Perhaps what makes these moments of surprising surrender so wonderful to me is the absence of expectation but the openness to accept that anything and everything can happen. Without the mat and the pervasive message of 'blissed out' peace you find in a studio, you allow yourself to become receptive to the world around you warts and all. With all the noise and the bustle of everyday life, letting a moment of complete happiness and surrender to wash over you, allows for the best moments of Yoga to happen.