Diwali, Paris, Guruji’s chest and Tadasana

We had an off last Wednesday as the institute was shut for Diwali. In the scramble to get the house scrubbed clean, finish work before I took a break and shop, my home practice took a beating. I got a few days of short practices and some stretches intermittently during the day but it is not the same as a focused time on the mat. I just feel rusty in the asanas. Try as I may to recollect my teacher’s instructions and repeat it, it just doesn’t feel the same. I don’t sense the movements in the same way and it just feels like I have lost my grounding. So it has been back to basics again. Tadasana and the standing asanas. I can’t wait for class.
In the meanwhile, I have started memorising the second pada of the sutras as I had stopped after learning the first pada. I intend to first memorise the Sutras and then study them. My mother in-law has been teaching the Gita shlokas to kids for many years now and while they don’t understand much, they can recite the stanzas beautifully. I hope to replicate the same pattern of learning.
Festive occasions are a disruptive time in a good way sometimes. I finally got enough time off to thoroughly clean up my house for Diwali. It was a happy feeling to light the many diyas, be with family and friends and partake of the joys of the season. It was a different manifestation of yoga in my day to day life. While asana is the very visible part of it in my life, my challenges lie in the limbs of yama and niyama.
The day before yesterday saw the last of the parties and yesterday was a slow getting back to a regular routine which got off to a shocking start. The news in the morning brought back memories of the terror attacks in Mumbai a few years ago. At that time, I was stuck to the television set, surfing news channels for the latest while in disbelief and horror at the carnage. It seemed unreal and all the media frenzy made for voyeuristic viewing. I couldn’t watch and couldn’t stop watching. It seemed so pointless and heartbreaking but after a while, life limped back to normal. The ones who lost loved ones learned to live with the gaping holes in their hearts and those who watched got a little more jaded. While I may feel horrified and sad, it is not a pinch on the grief of those who lost their dear ones. May they find the courage needed to carry on.
This morning while I was out on a run, I saw an elderly gentleman walking and he had the stooped shoulders common to older folks and I remembered Guruji’s strapping chest even at a ripe old age. I never tire of seeing his pictures at the institute. I hope to grow old like that, open to everything that life brings. Asanas brought me to a practice of more than poses and physical benefits and I wish more people could experience the health that is naturally ours. If so little could give me so much, I cannot imagine the richness of experience with a more aware and conscious practice. While it is nice to see progress in the way the asana looks as time passes, what has been more interesting is the connections between movements in different poses.
Regardless of whether it is Sirsasana or adho mukha virasana, every part of the body has a job in the pose. In yoga age, I’m a baby and just finding my feet in tadasana. There is so much to learn in just standing tall that I could probably spend a lifetime studying it.

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