My favourite way of understanding why the heck us yogis jump onto a mat and go through a sequence of postures (which are often the same) every day, is this. Yoga is a safe, rubbery laboratory for examining our life. The postures are our little test tubes, which when faced with different and challenging conditions will have interesting reactions which we observe, learn from, and ultimately apply to our own lives. The very beautiful Ashtangi Kino MacGregor puts it a bit more professionally:
“Yoga is a body awareness technique aimed at liberating your consciousness from old, habitual was of thinking, being and acting.”
So through watching our reaction to the gross, physical stuff, for instance diliking a particular posture, we start to access the subtle levels of mind and soul asking ourself: why do I hate this posture? What does that say about me? Likewise it figures that doing a yoga practice helps prepare us for the nonsense which life throws at you, life’s conundrums, and the slippery mountains which seem impossible to climb. So, we struggle and battle with a particular posture (for me it was lotus, then supta kurmasana and now bhujapidasana - okay you don’t need to know what these are but...) the point is, I told myself, there’s no way I’ll ever be able to do these impossible crazy bendy asanas. I know. There’s a girl. Could do with a bit more Anthony Robbins don’t you think? But it just seemed bloody impossible. Then, after a few more weeks/months of practice something opened up and I made progress in these postures, then hey presto, test tube experiment successful. I can get there. So ultimately the impossible became possible.
Life’s full of set backs too and my yoga practice has helped me to understand that we can conquer these too.
Today I woke up to blue skies, marshmallowy clouds and silvery sea. In fact, was a bit windy and damp underfoot but my mood was honey-coated happiness ‘cos I was just having one of those unexplained over the moon, top o’ da morning type days. I felt strong, accomplished, energetic. Driving back towards Manly over the glittery waters of the Spit Bridge, the radio cranked right up, I bounced along to my current favourite sing-along. Pure happiness.
Then... the darkness. Just a few hours later, I noticed a strangely familiar sensation in my adductor muscle (the inner thigh which pulls our legs together). Familiar. Shit familiar. So back to the yoga laboratory. What’s happened here?
Well, clearly I was bouyed by my marshmallowy mood, so I had a pretty amazing practice first thing; there were only three of us and I was giving it a bit more bubble than I’d usually do first thing in the morning. I felt warrior-like, determined, strong, focused, erm… a little too energetic. In yoga terms it felt a little like when you’re watching a movie and the actors are all radiant sunshiny loveliness, but the creepy music reveals something very bad is about to play out.
Now, I am not gonna jump the old gun here. Who knows, maybe it’s just a wee niggle that will evaporate with a good night’s sleep. When I got The Bruise at Purple Valley, it felt different. Today, doesn’t feel as bad and there’s no swelling as yet, but….. It’s setting off those alarm bells. The worry, the fear, definitely something I am prone too – thinking the worst. What if I am out of action again, as I was for three weeks in India? But I got over it in India. What really happened? I learned from it. I rested. The world did not end.
I know that it will heal, I KNOW that yoga is about being able to transcend the physical and learn from it. Listen to Kino for crying out loud and use the experience of the practice. As I learn from my yoga practice, nothing is permanent so everything changes. As my teacher told me today as well, having injuries helps you to become a better yoga teacher. Just as in life, people who have learned the hardest lessons have often come out the better teacher for it.