Thursday, 25 November 2010
A Leaf, a Flower, Fruit or Water
Ashtanga Yoga is a demanding lover. All yoga is. Take wisdom from ancient scriptures and let it take you through your Christmas (or any other holiday) with humble ease and smoothness.
In chapter nine, 26th verse of "The Bhagavad Gita", Krishna states to the mythical warrior Arjuna that if something is given out of love and reverence, it will be accepted, even if it is just a leaf, a flower, fruit or water. The essence is not in what is given as such, but within the intent that infuses the gift. The intent creates the essence. It is the essence.
This might be especially relevant, on many levels, now that Christmas is drawing near.
As I stated in my previous post (and mentioned in several of the earlier ones), simplifying our practice in less then ideal conditions is sometimes a usefool tool that helps us maintain regularity of practice. This doesn't necessarily mean that you don't do an entire practice when you know you can, but that the energy of the practice is adjusted so that you, through that energy and your intent, show respect for wherever you are at, energetically, physically, timewise or all of these.
What Krisha teaches us in the abovementioned verse is that the inner force, the intention and the energy of what is given is what's important, and not necessarily the form of the gift. Show respect for this in your practice. You might even want to dedicate it to someone or something that drives you and inspires you. It might be your teacher, your partner, a cause or anything. When you hit an especially challinging piece of your practice, go back to what or who inspires you and "give" your practice to this person or cause. It doesn't have to be much. It can just be a straighter back in navasana or more active legs in kurmasana or whatever. You do it in the best way you can, safely and with love and you give it to them. Remember: "a leaf, a flower, fruit or water.". Easy. It doesn't matter. Do it with love and reverence and it will be enough.
If you, at some point, don't quite feel like dedicating your asana or your entire practice to anyone or anything in perticular, give it to yourself. Rather than just going through the motions,let yourself be inspired by Krishna and the lovely "Gita", and make the practice a gift to yourself. It doesn't have to be more complicated than pouring yourself a glass of clear icey water when you're thirsty would be. This means that gifting yourself with your yoga practice is not the same thing as you going all Cirque-Du-Soleil-esque-crazy on your mat. If it is not quite where you are (if it is, go ahead and swing it!), let what you do on your mat be this proverbial leaf or fruit or water, a simple and beautiful thing,you do for yourself from where you are. Remember that it is the intent, the substance that counts and not the form. The form grows out from the substance.
And then there's Christmas.....
And the spirit of giving?
"However humble the offering....". "The Bhagavad Gita" teaches us that it is the way we give and not what we give that is the real gift. The physical gift is the symbol. This does not mean that you should go to your nearest and dearest and go "I present you with these bird droppings with love..". :-) They probably won't get it. I am not sure I would either. If you can easily afford lavish gifts and you want to give them to your loved ones, by all means, knock yourself out. But if you are "temporarily short on cash", why not give them a flower, a simple book (a cheap edition of the "Gita" with a good translation and commentary?) or something along those lines and give it with love. Love will make it lavish. It is like the aforementioned straight back in navasana (when your lazy mind says: "droop!" and you know better and you straighten it instead) - you do what you can with the most love and kindness you can give. And that is the gift. It will most probably be accepted with the same love and gratitude.
Go back to the scriptures for simple and powerful stuff like this short passage from "The Bhagavad Gita". Many of you, if not all, who invest your time in reading blogs and websites like this one, tend to have vast amounts of dormant knowledge that gets triggered by the simple means of being reminded you have it and that you can put it to use. That is the beginning of yoga outside of the mat. Go! :-)