I won’t bore you the details, but suffice it to say I’ve bit off more than I can chew this month and spent the better part of the past 30 days gripping, gasping and feeling continually pulled in opposing directions – every time I turn around, someone needs something from me; or there’s another fire to put out. I’m completely overwhelmed.
I mean, I’m a yoga teacher, I KNOW better. But suffering I am: On continual high alert, I think my adrenals are shot.
I know this because I recently retreated to the bathroom for some peace and quiet (clue #1, who sits on the toilet to get away?) and found myself lingering on the throne, trancelike and staring into space, waaay too LONG after the business at hand was done (clue #2). My daughter was the one who startled me out of my haze, when she yelled, “GROSS MOM, ARE YOU GOING NUMBER TWO??!!”
(For the record, I wasn’t.)
Of course, I wasn’t alone in the bathroom, because the dogs AND my daughter followed me inside: All four of them, anxiously tap-dancing around, jostling for position in a 30 square foot space, stirring up crazy vata energy which was frying my already toasted nervous system. I mean, really, would it be too much to ask for a minute by myself?
(We’re currently babysitting a friend’s sweet male retriever, which has added to our household canine zoo. He’s a good boy, until nighttime, when he sleeps right beside the bed and licks himself all night long. Gah! When his owner returns from her tropical vacation, I might suggest neutering, mainly for aesthetic reasons because it’s the responsible thing to do.)
And here’s where yoga comes in. Or, rather, the lack of yoga comes in. Lately, I’ve only been coming to the mat once a week or so, and usually my practice feels more like a means to an end (“If I can just get through this, I’ll feel better”) than an exercise in presence and contentment in the practice. After all, as I’ve been telling myself, “I don’t have time to practice.”
And it shows: I feel sluggish. I’ve gained weight. I’m depressed, cranky and irritable and stressed to the max.
But let’s be honest. IF I slow down enough to notice, I will realize where I am right now is tolerable and temporary: My family is healthy. We have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep. I have beautiful and supportive friends.
The problem is, I’m not slowing down. I’m not taking time to realize that, right now, things are pretty good.
I need to recommit to my mat.
Here’s what I know for sure: For me, there is a direct correlation between a sluggish yoga practice and increased suffering. When the quality (or quantity) of my time on the mat decreases, I lose the ability to maintain perspective. Without my practice, I find myself continually wishing things were different, one of the main causes of suffering.
It’s totally normal for one’s yoga practice to wax and wane. I’ve said this before, but in the course of my decade and a half practice, I’ve sometimes hit the mat daily, sometimes sporadically and sometimes not at all.
But now, each time you unroll your mat, it’s a reminder. A reminder to slow down, check in, count your blessings and honor your body through movement and sweat.
And, if you’ve found that your own practice has waned, why not recommit to just two days a week of consistent yoga?
As Sri Patthabi Jois famously said, “Do your practice and all is coming.”