Why practise?

Despite spending so much time at the institute, I have never practised in the hall, barring a couple of times, pre-pandemic. Practice is a solitary endeavour at home. I suppose it is a bit of shyness at having my struggles out in the open. In a class, I never feel that but practice is such an intimate and private process that I am hesitant. But, I had decided that once the child began college, I didn’t need to rush home and could do at least one practice session a week in the hall. So, today it was. And quite an interesting one. I remember one of Geetaji’s old students telling me that she used to tell all the practitioners to get together and practise but it rarely happened. The household usually takes prime place especially when children are young and/or there are elderly family members. It is a difficult spot. I digress. This post is to make note of a day when I did something different.

I wasn’t quite sure about what to do so started off with Supta Padangushtasana 1 and worked on similar asanas in terms of limb orientation. Practice is like playing with Lego blocks, you make, break, remake, redesign, etc. Long story short, I got a couple of cues from one of the old-time RIMYI teachers that dramatically improved what I was trying to work on. And in the bargain, the action opened up areas that were not accessible. Later I got chatting with a couple of others who were there. I was able to help them and could also request them to give me a hand with some of my asanas. And just like that a couple of hours went by.

While speaking with them, I realised that my learning process is different from theirs. They pursued asanas and had a final pose to show for it while mine was a more circuitous route with a focus on the intermediate actions in them. The downside is I don’t have a final pose very often as I don’t practice many of the advanced poses but when I am ready, the asana sort of happens without too much of a struggle. In some sense, this method is an imprint of one of my teachers. His classes would often be peppered with ‘as intermediate students… ‘ and go on to talk about the stages of moving into a pose, the breath in it etc. His asanas and assists are sheer artistry to watch and experience and therein lies the appeal of yoga as art. As I type, I remember one Punya Thithi where he spoke about his youthful experiences and Guruji giving him a copy of The Art of Yoga

After practice, I was thinking of the process of learning, education, teaching. Why does one learn? How does one learn? How does one learn to learn? Why does one teach? How does one teach? Why the need for education? Many of these spring from the special weekly sessions and simmer in the background. Wednesdays are particularly heavily loaded with classes starting at 7am. There is a lot of input through the multiple classes and training session and medical class. I finally crawl home by 9pm only to speed out of home the next morning at 5:30am. I do get a few hours in the afternoon in which I hop over to a friend’s place and take a snooze. And some days, I have a hearty meal at a nearby cafe. Today, it was Thalipeeth with curd, fresh off the griddle and served with curd and pickle. The owner later got me a small portion of sheera and insisted that I have it. It was a pure ghee and jaggery laden indulgence.

Post demonstrating for the evening class, it struck me once again how yoga has been an organic unfolding for me. If I am asked, why do I practise asana, I have a different reason today. Earlier I would feel it was for physical wellbeing, mental clarity, emotional stability etc. but now it is because when I am on the mat, there is nothing but the action at hand. The world sort of ceases to exist for that spell.

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5 thoughts on “Why practise?

  1. There is nothing at all like being on the mat, absorbed. Yoga is skillful action, for sure. But it is also stilling the fluctuations of consciousness. Everything else disappears and we unite with the Divine. Thanks for the yummy food picture! Also, your post brings back being in the big hall and practicing. I remember Laxmi telling me to have a sequence prepared so I had an idea of what I was doing and where I wanted to go. I usually just followed the postures and cues I had observed in the previous days’ notes, when I observed classes and wrote down what I could. However, some days I would come in for a restorative session and luxuriate in the ambiance—the sounds of the birds and the auto-rickshaws and the dogs barking—and the fans cooling the hot June air. I knew there was no place better to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was Rajlakshmi who guided me yesterday:) She’s a wonderful teacher. The next time I’m going to work with a sequence in mind. I love the sounds you describe and one of the most peaceful sounds would be the wind chimes from the house. Sometimes I go before class and lie down on the vipareeta dandasana bridge and all those sounds and smells and air take on such clarity.

      I do hope you get to visit RIMYI soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know that when I return to RIYMI that it will feel as if I never left. Well—perhaps I’ll need a little rajas to keep up with the classes—but I will make sure to be still and listen to the wind chimes. I hope to meet you in person!

    Liked by 1 person

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