I begin to wonder some days if living in a big city and trying to lead a yoga lifestyle is entirely incompatible. At what point does treating every person compassionately just turn you into a mug? Where is my dristi on the tube? And how do you retain your calm when all around you are losing theirs?
It reminds me actually of a fabulous workshop I went to a few months ago with the American teacher Max Strom. At the end of the class he talked us through our savassana describing the flashlight we all held in our chest (which I took to mean the not insignificant sense of peace I'd gained over the preceding two hours) which we could all turn outwards as we left the class. Being as the yoga centre we were in is smack in the centre of one of London's busiest shopping streets, he pointed out that it was a great experiment to take this feeling with us, and see how long we could make it last - not by trying to keep it to ourselves, but in a sense by turning this light onto other people.
I had up to that point always got frustrated at having to travel home from classes via public transport (with other people daring to destroy my calm - how could they?!) and feeling sometimes that the effect of the class was lost by the time I reached home. Instead, Max was suggesting in a way that what we had spent the previous few hours doing was now to be shared with the people we passed on our way home.
I like to think that in the past five months since I started to practice Ashtanga yoga, and mainly since I realised that yoga is so much more than asana practice, that those around me may have benefited a little too. I don't mean this in a "holier than thou" kind of way, and god knows I can be cranky, lazy, irritating and irritable when I want to be - after all I'm an ashtangi not an angel. But from my new rule to always smile and thank bus drivers, to my efforts to have more integrity in the way I do my job, to my generally happier attitude and approach to life, all of this comes from yoga.
In truth, all of this is the yoga. So while those around me may think that my yoga begins and ends on a sticky blue mat and has no impact on them, I like to think that perhaps the larger part of my day - the bit spent off the mat - actually does.