Yoga is the art of living

The thought for October reads, Yoga is the art of living. As I mentioned in the last post, the more I stay with these monthly contemplations, it becomes increasingly evident how difficult the simple statements are. As the month commenced, it also struck me how thoughtfully the thoughts were arranged in a progression through the months. Before I looked at next month’s thought, I was musing over how the art of living is one of integration which is nothing but karma yoga. And as Krishna says, action without the expectations of its fruits, abhyasa and vairagya are the twin heartbeats of a seeker. I took the calendar down and listed down all the statements and I see how their sequencing is a bit like sequencing in asanas and the teaching of the same.

December   2018 – Yoga is being eternally contemporary

January 2019 – Yoga is awareness

February 2019 – Yoga is purity

March 2019 – Yoga is sensitivity

April 2019 – Yoga is equanimity

May 2019 – Yoga is harmony

June 2019 – Yoga is deconditioning

July 2019 – Yoga is experiencing innocence

August 2019 – Yoga is compassion

September 2019 – Yoga is integration

October 2019 – Yoga is the art of living

November 2019 – Yoga is action

December 2019 – Yoga is to surrender

Yoga as the art of living is really an invitation to be alive. It us an invitation to fully inhabit our embodiment. In the foreword to Light on Yoga, Menuhin talks about it being each and every time a living act. That little opening is a favourite and one I’ve read so many times that it comes unbidden. What does it mean to live? What does it mean to live as a human being? I suppose these are questions that are continuously answered every single moment as we range the spectrum of tendencies from divine to demonic. At day’s end, when I reflect on the activities, actions, words and thoughts, I often notice how things could be handled better. Increasingly, I also notice how I’ve learned to respond differently although it is easy to slip into the unthinking comfort of habit.

The last couple of practice sessions were frustrating and I realized that I had crept towards outcome and not effort. It’s also a gentle reminder that a post 40 body is different. As a woman, there are the monthly ebbs and flows of menstruation along with the ageing that begins to accelerate. Add existing injury or degeneration and the mix is one that needs a balanced handling. Not too little, not too much but always pushing the edge of possibility. I suppose when I think about the art of living, it is really the art of effortless effort, prayatna shaithilyatha. One of my teachers used a lovely analogy in Uttanasana. He asked us to imagine Thakur (from Sholay) doing the pose. (Thakur doesn’t have hands) Often, we tug and pull to reach the chin to the shin but the elegance of the body dropping in surrender to the ground is a beauty to watch as well as experience. There is no attachment, simply a surrender. As I type, I again see how the thoughts of the months have been so beautifully linked like a sutra.

Integration to the art of living to action to surrender.

8 thoughts on “Yoga is the art of living

  1. Today I walked by the studio that is located across the island where I teach. Hasn’t been touched since March when the pandemic hit. Had so many memories climbing the steps and peering in the empty studio, props still in their places.

    Today is the day of Chandraghanta. I wonder if her grace could conquer the scourge of COVID-19 and the hatred and division in the world. Sorry that got deep fast, but I feel time is short. Yoga is now indeed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Not at all Michael. It is time to go deep fast, now. However, what I struggled with is how to serve best. We need warriors to fight the hard fight, we also need some to help heal, some to work for lasting change which is slow, long work and requires unflagging optimism and determination and so on. Earlier, I felt helpless because I felt I had to do all, at once. Learning to watch and assimilate has helped me respond better.
      I do hope we are moving towards a better tomorrow and take hope in the saying that it is darkest before dawn.
      Many blessings to you this season.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. […] Over the months, I’ve come to experience the integration of everything that is part of my life. Often, one comes across the term, intersection to indicate the coming together of different disciplines and creating availability of new possibilities, like the intersection of art and science or that of technology and sport. I prefer integration to intersection, a coming together, an organic evolution. I see it in how the various facets of living are like a forest, an ecosystem that thrives in an interwoven web of one continuous pulsating energy. And so these ramblings here when perhaps they might have gone on to my yoga web book. This month, the thought has been on yoga as the art of living. […]

    Liked by 1 person

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