When it comes to the next yama on yoga’s list – Asteya or non stealing– it all seems pretty clear cut. After all, we have probably had this drummed into us from an early age. Hopefully we are not in the habit of doing our weekly shop and scooting out without paying! But what if I told you there could be more to it than that?
Picture the scene…your friend rocks up to Starbucks sporting possibly THE most hideous outfit you have ever seen. Not only does it cling for dear life to all the wrong places, it looks suspiciously like something the cat might bring home.
When asked what you think of said ensemble, do you say…
a. “This is possibly the ugliest thing I have ever seen you in and it does nothing for your muffin tops.”
b. “It’s GORGEOUS!”
c. “To be honest, I am not sure the style really suits you. Do you still have the receipt?”
While answer A may be the whole truth and answer B a total lie, answer C may be the closest thing to yoga’s notion of the truth. In my last blog we embarked on Pantajali’s list of yamas. The second one of those little moral codes is satya – truthfulness.
It’s only yoga…so why do we constantly beat ourselves up on our mats? Whether it is judging our bodies, comparing our practice to someone else’s or forcing our limbs into something they are not ready for, our mat can often become a battleground of sweat, pain and judgement! It got me thinking, how often do we forget that yoga is more than just physical?
When it comes to the practice of yoga postures or asana, we can get caught up in the notion that this is the only tool in the yoga box. In fact, asana is the third rung on the ladder of what is known as the eight limbs of yoga. This path to enlightenment was laid down in Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras a long time before we ever had funky yoga clothing and studios. As one of the founding fathers of yoga, Pantajali was a guy who knew what he was talking about. Before we even get into the physical, he highlighted two things we should tackle – the yamas and the niyamas. I like to think of them as yoga’s little moral and ethical codes, and over the next few weeks we will take a look at each one and how they can relate to our yoga and life.
I remember chuckling to myself a good few years back when my yoga teacher was talking about the link between yoga and our emotions. I mean, who cries on their yoga mat? Ha! Not me, I thought. I’m far too ‘together’ for that. Nope, you won’t catch me sniffling in savasana, or welling up in wheel pose…
Then during my first teacher training, it happened. There I was just chilling out in child’s pose when one of the teachers pressed down on my back. It was as though she had found the switch for my tear ducts. It took me completely by surprise…I mean, tough old me? Who would have thought!
“MOVE YOUR HIPS!! Think SEXY!!”
Hmmm…sexy. Not the word I would connect to what I am feeling right at this moment, and certainly not one I would use to describe my reflection in the mirror to my front. Red face, hair plastered, bits jiggling. Here I am in Zumba…shaking it, swinging it and swivelling it as though my life depended on it. Trying to keep up with the musclebound, light of foot, Filipino instructor, Victor. If you are not sure what Zumba is, it is a Latino inspired dance music workout that is probably taking a gym near you by storm.
I’m sitting next to Darth Vader. Not as an extra in Star Wars, but as someone trying to meditate and tune out the overpowering noise of my neighbour’s breath. Every few minutes she takes an audible inhale followed by a long throaty exhale, accompanied now and again by a low moan. I wonder what is going on in her head in a bid to get away from the battering ram of my own thoughts. It is amazing the little things that start to consume your mind when you are not allowed to speak for a week.
Left hip on fire…Stabbing sensation right side lower back…mind everywhere but the ‘present.’
If the teacher does not ring that bell RIGHT NOW and end today’s miserable excuse for my meditation, then I may be forced to stand up and ring it for her! (Please note, this is a slightly more PG version of my inner most ramblings on that day).
Now, I do not consider myself an angry person. Nor do I think of myself as particularly impatient. But boy, did both those sides rear their ugly heads during some of my meditation practices over the last few days! Weeks one and two of my yoga training seemed to be my sleeping phase, while week three was a mix of drowsy days and a sprinkling of blissful still moments (during which I almost thought I’d got this meditation lark on the right road).
Ever seen the movie ‘Groundhog Day?’ The one where Bill Murray keeps waking up in the same day over and over again? This week as my 5.20am alarm jolts me awake I trudge wearily to meditation with that very concept in my head. Different day, same struggle!
Nearly three weeks into my training, sitting still with just my barrage of thoughts for company is not getting any easier. Heck, the other day I even carried the pillow off my bed to add to my variety of ‘props.’ Short of making a sofa out of them all, I settled for stuffing it underneath my sitbones in the hope of avoiding the numb butt feeling after half an hour.