PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Cartoon by Dan B.
"Do your practice and all is coming."
-Sri K. Pattabhi jois
"The secret to success in yoga is constant practice."
-Sri Dharma Mittra
I didn't practice while I was under the weather (I did, however, eat, sleep and watch TV and eat, sleep, and watch TV. So much TV in fact that I eventually came upon Animal Planet's stealthy charmer, "My Cat From Hell," which is actually about couples rather than cats). I did no sitting, no pranayama, no asana. Just japa - which can be done just about anywhere, even the deathbed.
Each day the body felt worse.
It brought the mind right down with it.
The mind started playing with its favorite toys - Doubt, Self-Recrimination, Judgment, Anxiety and Fear - and wouldn't give them up.
It started to think that Maid in Manhattan, Where God Left His Shoes and Delirious were masterpieces.
The mind also became convinced that the body would be sick for the rest of its life; that it deserved to be sick, and that the all-too-familiar accompanying depression would last forever, too.
In short, container felt like the hell - inside and out.....
Until Monday, that is - when the body felt a bit better, albeit weak, fat and stiff. So it did 5A, 3B, the standing poses, backbends and the closing sequence.
Suddenly, the mood improved.
Perhaps the body won't be sick forever, posited the mind.
So the same practice was performed the following day.
Again, the mood improved.
The mind calmed down, and put down its toys for a few minutes.
There was energy.
The appetite began to diminish.
On Wednesday, the body was still weak. So it did half primary, backbends, and the closing sequence.
And I saw clearly how in my case - again - that the key is to use the body to trick the mind into feeling normal..
It works again and again and again.
(I literally start to get sick when I don't practice ashtanga for more than three days - unless I'm with Dharma and doing his practice. Whatever the mind thinks I am is irrelevant; at heart it seems I'm a hatha raja yogi [with a minor in jnana.] For now, anyway.).
* * *
Morning classes were canceled Thursday because they were re-doing the floors at the gym.
Normally, this would mean one thing: time to sleep in.
Instead, I got up early and did some breathing.
Then I went to a 6:30am Mysore class subbed by Bill S.
The body felt good, so it did second series.
It was a treat to practice ashtanga with other people. With a teacher.
The body was even weaker, fatter, stiffer and sweatier than usual. It got assists in some of the dreaded K poses (Kapotasana and Karandavasana).
Yet afterwords there was energy to spare.
There was love for humanity.
The body and mind felt good.
So good in fact that I was able to tackle several unpleasant tasks that have been piling up (getting lumber cut at Crafty Beaver, picking a book up at the library, having the car serviced, doing the recycling in the wind and rain, going to the bank for a new ATM card, eyebrow threading, etc).
And it was all due to the practice.
As I told a student earlier this week,
"When I practice, the arrows that life throws at me are deflected.
"When I don't practice, each one hits its target."
My favorite episode of My Cat From Hell featured a yoga teacher who did not get along with her boyfriend's cat. She's allergic to the cat, and the cat always attacks her.
The rock 'n' roll cat whisperer who is the star of the show determines that the yoga teacher is bringing tension to the situation.
So he asks her to pretend she's teaching a yoga class, and that he's the student.
She agrees, and instructs him to stand comfortably. He complies.
Then she says, "OK, let it go."
"What?" he asks.
"Just let it go!" she says brightly.
"Let what go?" he asks.