I woke up this morning with a clear thought, it felt like someone was actually narrating to me in my head out loud. “Do not force anything to happen, you will injure or hurt yourself in the process”. And of course that incredible feeling of me getting into a supta kurmasana on my own during yesterday’s self practice washes through followed by a dull discomfort on my right hip rotators. Achievement not to be seen as one, pain not to be understood simply, and practicing through all of these as it rises and fall is something that I am beginning to relish more and more.
I had been sitting with this topic for a little while, to allow it to simmer and gain further depth before attempting to put it down into words. Reflecting on this growing love affair that constantly surprises me with delightful insights, like little candies found in the most unexpected places, my relationship and journey into Ashtanga yoga has been to a certain extent predictable given the company that I have grown close to in the second half of this year, but the intensity of which was completely unplanned. Sometimes I catch myself thinking how different my classes would be, my views of teaching, my commitment to a daily practice – how different my entire daily structure of life – my world would be without my current practice.
And that sounds really drastic doesn’t it?
Last night’s dinner with some good friends from high school, the ones that I have walked with through the better and worst part our twenties, made me realise that I am currently inhabiting an entirely different world. A world that seems both removed yet a part of reality. As soon as I sat down on the table of 4, I knew I had stepped into a different world where conversations would be different, not any better nor worse, but just different. Like the different perspectives of 2 different person looking at one single painting. Same subject, different ways of interpretation and understanding. I love these 3 people equally, when they hurt I feel their pain, like that time when A cried while relating a personal story to us right in the middle of Rasta while having dinner. But I also realised, the capacity of understanding each of our unique experiences are limited to the extent of what they know and have experienced themselves. And hence, trying to relate the story of that deepest backbend I got into last Friday (which is a BIG deal for me) felt at best a feeble attempt of trying to describe to them the taste of an exotic food that neither of them has ever tasted.
It got me thinking, what is it about Ashtanga and the practice that feels like I am walking through a ring of fire in which at the opposite end is an entirely different view and understanding of the world around me. Why do I do the same sequences over and over 6 times a week but never once has it felt the same as yesterday? Why do I keep diving into it further and further without a clear sight of an end nearby? I don’t know if this time next year, I would even be saying the same things about the practice. I don’t know what to expect or even if there is a need to have any expectations at all from the practice. Going into this, I remembered thinking – cool now I have a set of tried-tested and proven sequence I can memorise, and do this over again instead of feeling like I’m plucking random yoga asanas out of thin air and do it when I feel like it, or do it because that famous practitioner on IG does it and it looks beautiful. There are 840,000 yoga asanas known to man, like come on – certainly there has to be some logic and reasoning to performing these asanas. The Type A in me is tickled and pacified currently with the Primary series.
And perhaps, this love affair is fuelled by a sheer feeling of wonder, curiosity, novelty and awe. Much like how most other relationships begin. But there is an additional dynamic to this. It goes both ways. Just as the practice and commitment of others floors me, so too the transformation that I am observing within myself. The physical changes are obvious, but these I believe are only the secondary benefits. J. Krishnamurthi’s explanation on relationship seems to have shed an entirely different, better and brighter light to my own understanding of it. His articulate thoughts have put into words everything I knew and understood of this thing called ‘relationship’, in all perspectives, romantic, platonic, with a person, an idea, a system or whatever else that allows one to ‘relate’ to the other. The idea of communion. Of falling into the one-ness, when the observer and the observed disappears, and all that remains is the present moment. The moment that is neither being experienced nor being process into an experience, a memory.
It is exactly this that I feel has been the construction of my world lately. When I step onto my mat, heels and toes together, palms in front of my heart just before uttering the opening mantra. The moment I close my eyes and bow down, the physical world around me slips away. And then it is just the breath, the movement and the occasional awareness of others around me. Of course on days when focus seems non-existent, there are conversations going on with the Self, or wandering drishtis. Similarly outside of practice, it is when I enter into an engaging conversation, a topic that I genuinely identify with or passionate about, the moment when there is an indefinite locking of hearts and mind, when thoughts arise not only from logic, but understanding that comes from the heart. That, I believe are one of those beautiful, rare but entirely possible moments of communion. It is a world that I am much happy to be pulled into deeper and deeper, though it is also a world which has left me wondering if I am able to reintegrate back into ‘the other world’ where the majority idea of ‘drop back’ is literally being physically dropped back to ones house from another location. And if I can’t, what would it mean to my existing friendships and social circle?
It feels painfully familiar, like discovering the similarities and amazing connection with a person of the opposite sex and being so incredibly enchanted by it that you want to allow all parts of your life to be entirely drawn into this world, to be lost in its wonder, and at the same time to have the parts of yourself be revealed like turning over the stones from the bottom of a river one by one. It is not so much the experience of ‘falling’ in love, but rather ‘drifting’ into this strong pull of love and allowing all previous understanding of yourself to be unearthed, burned, and renewed. And perhaps this is one of of its valuable lessons, to allow myself to be moved by the pull, without resistance, without force, without wanting something to be a certain way at a certain time, but rather to allow more moments of being absorbed into the present, engaged, aware and at ease. With ease there is openness, and when one is open, magical things happen like moving into that one asana that you once thought was completely impossible. And that I believe is the essence of all romantic, poetic love affairs, on and off the mat.