How far does the practice of yoga asana take you?
I wore a pedometer to this mornings mysore style full primary practice to see how far the practice takes me in the confines of the 26″ X 71″ Manduka mat.
Within the hour and a half practice my mind drifted to the scratchy facial hair that I did not want to shave this morning, the jittery hands from the cup of coffee before practice, how I wanted more lift in the transition between sides of Mari C, what I was going to eat for breakfast, what to do with the moon day on Sunday, and how consumed we all are in this room with our practice.
Thrity-three jump throughs, 47 chatvari positions, enough sweat to justify an extra coconut after practice (only Imran wasn’t standing outside the studio and Chicago does not have coconut trees like Mysore) and the amount of steps it calculated I took was 0, ZERO, nothing, I did not go anywhere.
My first reaction was, ‘Seriously?!?’
I have been practicing Mysore style Ashtanga yoga for a short five years and I have not gone anywhere by a mechanical calculated measurable distance.
I originally stopped running marathon distances when I discovered Ashtanga yoga because I had nothing left to run towards or run from because everything I needed was inside me, was inside this practice.
I would like to think that because of the practice I am a better person for ‘facing my issues’ but in truth I still run from certain issues (or asanas) or hurry to others, only these issues are now magnified on the yoga mat.
I know that the still point of a wheel is the axle, the center and the spokes and tire run around it in circles.
I know that practicing moves towards this stillness, but that stupid ego would like some validation for how many times it runs around the still point. I am not above this ego, but I am not my ego, and no matter how many steps I take it comes with me, and it shows up in practice when I am not taking any steps at all.
It should not matter that the asana practice does not add into the 10,000 steps scientist calculate we take in a day but having pushed through the limiting voices in my head that came up in practice questioning where I was going to go when my apartment lease was up, what is for breakfast and would four navasana’s be enough today, I felt like I had run a marathon of thoughts around the stillness.
Laying on the 26”X71” mat, defeated, in sukhasana (easy pose) with my hands spilling over the edges, my head raced over the borders I have crossed this year and the airline miles accumulated in this pursuit of knowledge, I would like to think that in this pursuit I did not miss the essential teachings of yoga.
I would like to think that deeply ingrained within me somewhere is the knowledge that yoga is not limited to being practiced in a special space but that it is practiced in the world with intent and purpose.
Yoga is practiced within the 10,000 steps I take moving throughout my day and it is limiting to think it is only done on the mat.
Each day, with these thoughts and this ego, working towards a still point, the place where the asana practice is taking me, will be my meter and the distance I have left to get there, because the point of stillness is within me at all times.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise