Karma Talk

It’s the season of wet skies and grey thoughts. The sun hides behind pregnant clouds waiting to deliver another downpour. It’s not my favourite season and after the initial showers that spell relief from the hot Indian summers, I long for the sun.

It’s fascinating that above the seemingly never ending grey, there is sunshine and blue. Every once in a while, it lights up and shows a silver lining. Hope. The green that springs alive during this season is testimony to the endless cycle of creation, growth and destruction. Nature provides much thought for the mind and heart, perhaps that’s why the rishis of old sang their wisdom in her language.

The only thing that seems to have slowed time is the 90 minutes of class twice a week. The remaining hours were a blur of cooking, cleaning, work, hospital trips with Amma, some community work and falling to bed exhausted. In all this, home practice took a beating. A bad one. I considered it a win if I could rest in a Supta Swastikasana or Supta Baddakonasana before bed. The odd Adho Mukha Svanasana snatched when near the ropes in my bedroom or a Tadasana with a brick between my knees as I cooked served as some form of asana. I missed the satisfaction of a hearty practice but sometimes you just take whatever you get. Like my teacher last year would say, do just Adho Mukha Svanasana and Uttanasana but practise something. Hopefully, the coming week should bring back the old routine.

Yet, there’s always the proverbial silver lining. Class lessons have been on repeat mode in my head as I visualise asanas and see their actions in my mind’s eye. Last year’s learning makes fresh sense as the asanas reveal a little more. The more I learn, the more I see how much I don’t get. It was amusing when a fellow student asked me why I wasn’t in Inter 2. Her point was you do it so well. But that’s exactly what it isn’t, doing. It is the being that I am working towards and that’s hard. The longer I spend studying, the more I see how much of a disconnect exists between body, mind and heart. Some brief moments, they come together and time seems infinite but that’s a fleeting flash of space.

It’s not all woe as I also see changes in asana presentation. It kind of sneaked up on me while I was busy looking at all the areas that needed work. Life as a householder can be trying but it’s also a great field for the kleshas and vrittis to play out their drama and make change possible. Some day. Till then, I bumble along, human frailties and resilience playing the seesaw. Falling some, picking up a little and so on. Much as I wish otherwise at times, it is a blessing in disguise. Kind of like how difficult training for a marathon can be. Speaking of which, I guess it is time to get back on the road. But, small steps to begin yet again.

It seemed apt that one of my recent readings was 4.17 of the Divine Song, “For verily (the true nature) of ‘right action’ should be known; also (that of) ‘forbidden (or unlawful) action’ and of ‘inaction’; imponderable is the nature (path) of action.” In his commentary, Swami Chinmayananda explores the concept of Karma and classifies it into three types- Nitya (constant duties), Naimittika (special duties on special occasions) and Kamya (purposeful or desire prompted duties). This month has seen different kinds of activities straddling all kinds of duties, some of which were done joyfully, some with a sense of burden and some indifferently. Could I have done it better? Yes. The days I managed even 15-20 minutes of asana practice were the days where I found more time. It reminds me of an analogy I often use about how in aircrafts, one is asked to fix one’s own oxygen supply before helping out even one’s kids and others. Asana practice is like that Oxygen mask.

Even the Blue God concedes that karma is ‘imponderable’ ๐Ÿ™‚ He then goes on to describe a YOGI as ‘he who recognises inaction in action and action in inaction‘, echoing what we strive for as practitioners. As the good poet says, I have miles to go before I sleep.

Hari Om



4 thoughts on “Karma Talk

  1. Some of my best yoga has been at times when I could barely do a proper asana practice. A strange thing happens when life has its claws in you to where you can barely manage the basics. You tend to think a lot more about yoga. It’s always with you whether your ability to perform an asana is good bad or otherwise. Be grateful for the rain and bad weather. Our Earth is so taxed that it needs that sustenance to grow new life and replenish. Go deep in this time, you will miss this deepness when the weather clears up and you can actually function. Above all get rest. Rest is the most spiritual thing anyone can do. Many blessings Sonia!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Michael. Good reminder about how much we need the rain. It’s scary how even in India (a land fabled for her rivers), the situation is rapidly deteriorating. I’ve been part of a small community effort to clean up and restore a small open plot in my neighbourhood and it has been a deeply satisfying experience.
      Perhaps a few months down the line, the lessons of this period will make themselves more clear…

      Liked by 2 people

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