I've got a good excuse though - ready? I've had builders in. Not convincing enough? For a period of one month, my entire flat (my practice room included) has been turned upside down, covered in 2 inches of dust, filled with building rubble & materials, and I have had to rise at 6 to wash in the kitchen sink before the builders arrive to start work (on the days that anybody turned up, this is - not that I ever knew when this was going to be) The only days I could rely on them to turn up were on weekends, when I was forced out of my home for the duration, but still needed to be around at the beginning and end of the day to check up on them and answer questions. Given my shower-less status, not to mention the stress of living in a pigsty for twice as long as the job was due to take, somehow I was not feeling predisposed to a) get on my mat on a daily basis, or b) go and get hot & sweaty at the (similarly showerless) ashtanga shala I practice at a few times a week. Oh and in weeks 1-2 I also put my neck out. Good enough excuses?
My living room - mid chaos
All of that said, it has turned into rather an interesting experiment. Having started to practice ashtanga yoga in March this year, despite some "off" weeks I have been fairly consistent for the past 9 months, but every so often I begin to wonder why I practice. Having taken some time out I think I have some fairly convincing arguments now. Of course the experiment wasn't exactly scientific, I mean what came first: were the rising stress levels due to my the lack of a safe haven or my lack of a yoga practice? During the past month I have found myself to be constantly exhausted, frequently unwell (I have just come out of a 4 day migraine), my skin is breaking out, I am constantly worrying about the future - in short, from what I remember, I have reverted back to my pre-yoga self.
So now that the work is over (and I have a very fabulous new bathroom to show for it), the dust is all but cleaned up, and I have the keys back from the builders, today was the designated day to get back to my practice. I had planned to start over the weekend but being a moon day yesterday, I took the day to rest instead, ready for an early start today.
Perhaps it's overblown to imagine that all of these effects have come about thanks to me getting on my mat this morning, but perhaps not. It reminds me of a passage in Donna Farhi's wonderful book Bringing Yoga to Life where a lady taking on yoga later in life to cope with a difficult divorce realises that for the first time she finds joy in simple things, the sensation of the wind on her face, the pleasure of a hot bath. "Nothing's changed", she says, "but everything has changed".