Led primary hurt today – physically and mentally. My ribs hurt, perhaps a tweak from assisted dropbacks on Thursday, Friday was ladies’ holiday so today was my first practice since then, and taking a deep breath induced a small flash of pain. I saw an open spot, congratulated myself once again on how stress-free this whole “getting a good spot” is, only to realise too late (like that kid’s party game, once all of the chairs had been taken away) that my mat was now covering not just one but a whole confluence of bumps and ridges – and massive ones at that. With my feet at different heights as we chanted the opening mantra the Pollyanna in me wanted this distraction to take my mind away from the breathing pain. And for the first standing postures I suppose it did, but all I could think was that I wanted – no needed – to leave. But how would you leave a led class in the shala without it becoming a major incident? You can’t, that’s how, so I knew I just had to suck it up and get on with it. So up to a point that’s what I did, but reaching bujapidasana the pain reached a crescendo – it is located on my left side, somewhere between the side of my body and the base of my shoulder blade, and tipping forward to the floor induced a flash of pain, followed by the realisation that I still had to get out of the posture after 5 breaths. I have no idea why it was so painful there, but it truly was – and coming out was the most difficult part. I vinyasa-ed to start kurmasana, realising that there would be some challenge here too, but I slid down into kurmasana with relatively little discomfort, only to find that while I could still hitch my feet behind my head by raising them up with my shoulders, I couldn’t catch the bind with my hands. For the first time in two years I was unable to do the pose (so screamed my ego), and not only that but I was in agony. I stayed prone on the mat, and as I moved into baddha konasana hot tears came. I stopped, skipped the vinyasa, held my sore ribs and quietly cried, and my sweet neighbour (I don’t know you, but thank you) stopped to make sure I was alright, and somehow I made it to the end of the primary series, limped outside for a coconut then headed home feeling miserable. I self-medicated with a delicious breakfast, coffee and some ibuprofen, cancelled my big jolly lunch-plans, and headed off for an early conference. And what should happen but the Boss was in a super-light mood. He had the packed-out room (admittedly the easiest crowd in the world once he takes the floor) laughing frequently, at one point doing an impersonation of somebody singing mantras with a guitar (instead of chanting them with correct breath and intonation). But more than that, somehow so many of the things he said today resonated with me so clearly that on the spot I made choices about how I want to live my life and things I want to change. He reiterated today:
Yoga is a four wheel drive car; one day life is up, the next day down, and only with yoga can we cope in all terrains.
Somehow this, or other topics that came up today, made me realise a few things that I needed to look at in my life. These seem intangible now I come to try and write them down, to spell them out, but perhaps that isn’t the point; I don’t need to share every thought, just to say that something in the way that this gentle man speaks sends a laser pointer of focus in to my own thoughts and understanding of my life, and gives me a direction, a feeling of which way to move on.
One particular thing did stick in my mind. “Always we say ‘oh look at him, he is wrong, he must not do this, she is doing that incorrectly’, but we do not look at ourselves to see what we must change.” Oh yeah...I gotcha. This is probably my specialist subject. But self-awareness is the first step, so I’m there...and now I need to start really looking at it.
I realised too that questions asked in conference seem to follow one of two themes. First is the philosophical/historical question (which to a certain extent says: listen to what I know, then tell me about it). The second, probably the more common, says “I do this: please tell me it’s OK?” We travel all of this way, we give up our lives, maybe our jobs, our families, a lot of our comforts (and certainly a lot of money), and we want this man to answer all of our questions. We want him to tell us that what we do, whether it’s choosing to practice sports alongside yoga, or to also take martial arts, or to eat meat, or drink milk, or to spend more time with our children than on our asana practice (his answer to the last one: “of course”), somehow we need to hear him say that it’s OK. And most of the time, of course, he does not. We feel that we need to ask, in all likelihood, because we already question these things ourselves, and yet we think that he will make it all alright. But the ongoing answer to any question posed during conference is just as we know it will be; take practice, be sincere, don’t mix it up or try to copy-write yoga, or say that you know best. Practice with sincerity, with your teacher, for a long time, and don’t think that saying you are a yogi makes you a yogi. The same applies for having a certificate.
But all in all conference was sweet, and light, and just what I needed to contrast with my practice. And as the day went by I got over myself, I kept the ibuprofen topped up, and of course no matter how crappy this morning felt, tomorrow is another day.