Step 1: Start a fire.
Most days, we come to our mats for peace, repose and relaxation. Most days, we wish well for others, and come to our mats in the interest for serving others. Most days, we practice to a soundtrack of chanting or flowing music and wind up wandering around for a solid hour or so after our practice in a state of being I’ve lovingly come to refer to as “yoga drunk.”
However, it’s just a cold yoga studio at 7:30 a.m. on a Monday morning, and I’m just beginning a new phase of my asana practice: a dedicated morning practice. My last attempt at a morning practice didn’t go so well; I couldn’t get over my own stiffness.
I needed a kind of energy, a fire. I needed that thing that gets us through those Mondays, those days where new ventures are embarked upon; those days where climbing mountains and fighting wars are not out of the agenda. Those are the days where the energy it takes to rip stars from the sky or venture to hell to fight demons needs to be leashed, harnessed and ridden like a robot unicorn.
We call this energy agni (inner fire).
If Arjuna had Spotify, Sri Krishna might have shared with him “The Angry Yogi Playlist.”
Energy is like a tiger: it’s most dangerous when untamed.
I looked for music that was fiery and pulsing, but still in control; too much screaming and power chords and it would be like venting a fire in the middle of the Arctic Circle—effectively useless, though perhaps a little cathartic.
I practiced to this playlist for the first time this morning; it went much better than my previous practice where I didn’t use any music (yes, I’m aware that is the “traditional” Ashtanga practice).
When my practice was finished, I found that I actually meant the words, “Om shanti, shanti, shantih.” I wasn’t hoping; I was all but begging for peace, in a way I hadn’t understood before. Every so often, I’d found that I’d become lax in my practice. I had been posing. In those days, I had been effectively saying, “I mean, peace would be pretty cool, but whatevs.”
We can’t just wish for peace. If we want it, then the only way we’re going to get it is to actively work for it.
Sometimes that means getting angry.
Sometimes that means starting fires.
When a car starts, it is not by the power of gentle caresses—it literally begins with a small, controlled explosion. All the oil in the world is useless to a machine that does not start. However, once started, a fire must be controlled, lest it destroy everything in its path. The practice of yoga is not just one of starting and stoking fires; it is one of controlling them.
This isn’t a practice that I could prescribe myself or anyone else daily. Not every day needs to begin with a roaring fire. Not every day needs a kickstart. Not every day needs to feel like a war. But on those days where it is needed, I present this playlist, that it may hopefully provide some assistance!
Kevin Macku is a 20-something fledgeling yogi with a love of words. He is a trained actor who occasionally appears in local movies and on stage. His preferred methods of expression are based in movement: Suzuki’s Training for the Classical Actor, Viewpoints and Butoh to name a few, all of which benefit from the practice of yoga. In the midst of a rigorous physical practice, he discovered he was undergoing a spiritual transformation, and began to document the experience. These entries can be found at http://doafy.posterous.com/. Kevin himself can be reached at [email protected].
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta