Yoga is evenness of mind – a peace that is ever the same.
(Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 49)
Peace of Mind? Is that how you’ve been feeling lately? From what I’ve been reading and hearing, this is not the predominant mood as we enter our second year of pandemic.
A year ago, I began writing small pieces on the purpose and value of yoga and in particular establishing your own personal practice. What seems to have happened instead is a plethora of Zoom classes and, or so I hear, some people are practising with teachers from all over the world. In and of itself that is not a bad thing, as long as you integrate and build on what you learn and put it to good use in your life
Reminds me of a class in Pune with Geeta Iyengar where she berated us about our tendency to take more and more classes whilst neglecting to practise what we had already been taught: becoming gatherers rather than practitioners. A few of the group, including me I must admit, were standing there feeling rather smug in the knowledge that we did practise regularly! Indians are raised on long speeches and rituals that go on and on and on. It was a while before Geeta paused and turned her attention to us: “They practise! But what do they practise?” A rhetorical question needing no response!
Hopefully in the years since then my practice has matured as each day I draw on the resources and tools I was trained to use in my search not for only health and well-being but purpose and meaning. Yoga is a discipline. Like all disciplines, it has to be studied, learned, digested and put to good use. Discipline dissipates when practice is lapse and diminishes when we lose focus on its purpose.
One question a yoga master asks of students again and again is: What is the purpose of your Life? As this pandemic continues to hold us in its grasp if it has taught us anything it is to stop wasting time on futile regrets about what we cannot do at present and focus on those aspects of living still under our personal direction.
On my fridge at present is a notice from BC Hydro about a planned power outage in my neighbourhood one day next week. It encourages us to plan how to manage without electricity: something people all over the world have to do day after day because of fragile infrastructure. Metchosin where I live is not at the top of Hydro’s list for dealing with outages, so some years ago Derek and I invested in a generator. Now we are covered provided we make sure the generator has sufficient fuel.
A yoga practice provides the power to face and deal with life’s vicissitudes. Whatever age and state of health (physical and mental) you are presently experiencing, seize the day, practise the yoga you have been taught and see where it takes you. Along the way discard everything that weakens you.
The revered Swami Sivananda’s motto was Be Good! Do Good! Our public health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry regularly encourages us to Be Calm! Be Kind! Be Safe! This latter exultation is as good a slogan as any for your personal yoga practice using whatever outer space is available to you to gain access to that intimate place within.
Shirley Daventry French