Subbed a class yesterday. While I was nervous to begin with, once I saw the little boxes with bent elbows and knees, my mind forgot to be nervous and it was simply a matter of transmitting the message of straightness that was required in the limbs during the asanas. The more time I spend in classes, whether as a participant or observer, I am mesmerized by how extensive and intensive the entire system is. What appears simple on the surface is actually fathoms deep. All we see are waves and like children, splash happily on the shore but the giants of the oceans live in its depths.
It is when one looks at asanas with alignment and those without the symmetry and elegance that one begins to see discipline in its external form. Internally, there is more cohesiveness in the entire embodiment. The body, breath and mind lose its scatteredness and come together. But it takes time and a lot of frustration in the early days. And there is really no alternative but to do. Repeatedly until the rigidity is transformed into something malleable through which energy can flow naturally. These were concepts that I comprehended cerebrally but experiencing them happened in its own time.
Over the years, this blog has traced a squiggly path that I’ve found myself on. It has been a witness to progress and setbacks, life altering changes and study. Most of the time, I’ve stopped and marked the passage in some fashion. There were phases when I withdrew and periods of prolificacy, also markers in themselves of the changes along the way. Last night, I was thinking about how my journey in yoga actually began much before I stepped into the class. About 12-13 years ago, there was a period of searching. I found myself reading the epics of this land which provided the stepping stone to picking up the Gita and later the Upanishads. I read and was mesmerized by their sheer poetry. I think my fascination was really the language and its power as the concepts they spoke about were complex even though the words were simple.
All I wished then was to have a Guru, a real one. I was told that I would find one in my late 30s. I did but it was not quite how I imagined. I found my Guru, the year he left his embodiment. His words reached me through his students and disciples, his books and most of all the subjective experience of his teachings. If I had to look at my studentship, it needs more but I’ve made my peace with my pace. There is no goal as such, simply the chipping away. Changes happen over time but what we all have is just what is right in front of us at any moment. It is only when I look back that I see what a wonderful gift it is. I suppose the first word of the first sutra says it best. Atha. No past, no future. Just the infinity of now. Asanas are a way to experience that.
Guruji was a force, whose presence breathed energy into those he came in contact with. He lived and taught in a time when yoga was not a multi billion dollar industry. Almost a century after his life, yoga is ubiquitous and there is more than enough information about asanas, anatomy and physiology, pranayama, philosophy etc. that is widely available. It is a mass product and packaged as such. In the context of these times, his teachings blaze even brighter through the legacy of those who lived and learned directly from him. Yoga beyond asana and pranayama, what Prashantji speaks of as essential yog or classical yog.
We are lucky to live in this millennium when such wisdom is also available for those who may be so inclined. I remember an event at the institute when he shared an incident from his life. As students of teachers who have been with Guruji over decades and especially in his last years, there is a rich, distilled ocean of wisdom and we benefit from that generosity. His sadhana was one of such rigour and tenacity that it paved an easier way for us. In the course of sifting through material, I look at pictures of Guruji in various moments of his life and am struck by his incredible joy, sheer elegance and artistry, softness and vitality. Truly a giant.
Sunday evening marks the beginning of the week’s yoga lessons. Inevitably, after it is over, I remain in a ‘zone’ for the lack of a better word. Each session is an ocean while I splash in the kiddie pool of the class. The students that make up this group are practitioners since decades and attuned to the teacher in a way that I probably will never be. But, in the weird trajectory of my yoga learning, here I am. For those who have watched the movie 3 Idiots, the character of the child Rancho probably echoes my situation, slipping in and out of classrooms that he doesn’t quite belong in. It is the same for me but I couldn’t be more content. It does feel that all my learning is more an absorption rather than active learning, closer to a child’s process rather than an adult’s.
This year has been one of coming to a commitment through a process of elimination. At the start of 2022, it did feel like I was turning a very wide bend and at year’s close, that sense is validated. I can see a little beyond it. Recently, I made the acquaintance of a fellow practitioner, S. She has been a devoted student of Guruji and Geetaji and now shines the light of their teachings in her country, As we worked together and shared our stories, I was inspired by her life and living. Her life story is simply incredible. She seemed to be able to see ahead into my life more than I could even imagine. I don’t think too much about the future as the uncertainty of my living situation has been the only constant since the last few years. It is a space I am comfortable in and my life is mostly just about the day. It is familiar territory.
But today morning, I came across two separate pieces of writing, both reflections of giants in their own chosen disciplines. I found myself affirming a commitment that was always there but never articulated to myself. S was the catalyst and the subsequent readings inspired me to make a decision for myself despite the self-doubt and sense of insufficiency. And in the mysterious ways of the cosmos, life acknowledged it, almost immediately. The path seems to have chosen itself. How it unfolds, only time will tell.