Practice and all is coming

I don’t know how I got to be so busy in India!  There isn’t a ton of free time when you’re getting up early to walk 20-30 minutes to arrive at KYM by 7:30AM.  I’m in lectures, chanting, or in yoga practice (asana, pranayama, meditation) until 6PM.  I walk back home by ~6:30PM and if I’m eating out as I did last night and tonight, there really is no time to re-read my notes from day’s classes or reflect on what I learned or did that day.  I shower, write or read a bit, and it’s already midnight.  The days are flying by so quickly; it’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Chennai for 10 days already.  A friend at KYM told me that he goes to bed at 8PM each evening.  It’s already 11:30PM and I don’t feel that I’ve had any time to unwind and get ready for bed.  I have a scratchy throat and my sinuses are a bit congested.  I think it might be the pollution here in Chennai along with the temperature swings (60s in the morning close to 90 during the day) and my not getting enough sleep.  Out of the three, the only thing I have any control over is the amount of sleep but it’s hard to say no to social outings when the people here are so interesting!

Tonight I had dinner with a friend I met at Ayurveda Yoga Villa a few weeks back.  He’s traveling through Chennai for Pondicherry and then the Andaman Islands.  We had a bit of trouble with our phones, directions, and meeting point but we were able to somehow get together and share a nice meal.  I guess it’s been only about three weeks since we last saw each other, but he and I both have seen and done so much that we just chatted away for several hours.  I spoke to him about some of the yoga philosophy and discussions we’ve been having at KYM, and it was good to have a fresh new perspective on things that I’ve had swirling around in my head.  While I was at the ayurvedic retreat he had started practicing yoga so I asked him whether he was still doing it.  He said he will continue as he travels.

At the ayurveda center we used to have two hours of asana practice each day, totaling two hours.  At the Sivananda ashram, there were two, two hour asana practices a day (four total hours).  Today during our application of yoga class, we talked about how one should practice yoga.  The sutras tell us “yatha abhimata.”  One needs to practice as it is appropriate to himself, mindful of the changes in mind and body as well as how one feels that day and in the particular stage in his life.  For example, having a four hour a day asana practice for someone young and full of energy may be the right thing for that person at that time but when he is in his 50s a four hour asana practice is not appropriate.  Our teacher then went on to say that as one practices more yoga, you should need less yoga.  Yoga, which includes the attitude/behavior observance, physical asanas, pranayama, and meditation, should lead you “to be free of yoga” (i.e. less time practicing yoga).  If you practice consistently and for an extended period of time, you should be able to live a yogic life without having to “practice” so much.

But of course all the benefits and effects of yoga come from practicing it.  Practice first and then you can better find out for yourself what is appropriate for you.  What is appropriate for me right now is to practice “ahimsa” (non-violence/harm)  and going straight to bed.  Even though I want to see and do more, I need to not travel to Pondicherry with my fellow students this weekend so that I can slow down and rest.

Sri Pattabhi Jois used to tell his students “practice and all is coming.”  It’s so true.  Yoga on and off the mat.

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