Yesterday was a day off and, having yet again failed to have a lie-in due to a cacophony of crowing roosters, howling dogs, wailing muezzins, chanting yogis and warbling pigeons from around 4am onwards, I enjoyed a very lazy morning with coffee and a trashy novel in bed (BKS Iyengar’s ‘The Tree of Yoga’ book firmly put aside to give my brain a break from yoga overload). We then escaped the city to breathe cleaner air in the Karanji Lake nature park in the outskirts, which teems with bird-life. I needed to escape for a few hours, to avoid any discussions of yoga and to commune with wildlife somewhere peaceful, which is when I am truly at my happiest. My spirits soared with the trajectories of the pelicans, storks, egrets and cormorants and my smile lifted with the lilting trills of the vibrant parakeets.
Life here is so focused on the yoga that, on the days off, I find myself needing a mental break from it as well as the physical break. And, due to the rigid discipline of the daily schedule, I probably go a bit far the other way; eating cake and pizza, drinking coffee, acting a bit silly to combat the seriousness of it all (yeah, I know – crazy times… ;)). I have a tendency to over-think things, and the intense focus on yoga has caused me to question how I feel about it all; about the role that yoga plays in my life. But I know it’s also good to question things and observe the flow of thoughts and feelings as they occur.
My current feeling is that there’s a balance to life, and that here, my balance is out of kilter; I feel too confined by stricture and discipline (I probably shouldn’t have signed up to thrice daily classes in the first month – classic over-enthusiasm on my part!). But I also realise that being here is a gift of an opportunity to immerse myself in all things yoga, to learn lots, and to go on an inward journey, and I should embrace this. But I’m finding it hard; it feels like a battle of wills and my rebellious side keeps bubbling up. For example, when we had two consecutive days off last week, for Vijay’s engagement, an avid ashtangi class-mate was genuinely shocked when he found out I hadn’t self-practised on either day – part of me felt ashamed (the part I try to tame, which still cares so much what others think of me), and another part delighted in his surprise like a naughty school-girl!
I know that this is all part of it. The intense experience is revealing all of me in harsh exposure, with no chance of running away, unless I give up and leave. So I take a step back and observe my emotions, knowing that they are always passing through; they will shift each minute, hour, day. It’s a journey, and I want to stay the course even though, currently, it’s not an easy fit for me. Sometimes I feel a bit of a fraud, knowing I teach yoga for a living, yet I have these doubts, and I’d love to be reporting back news of my fast-track to enlightenment! But I’m only human, and wish to report my experience of being here with honesty. As I said to Chris the other day (over a cheeky latte), “There is nothing more yogic than truth’ – and he said, ‘You need to write that one down!’ So I have… 😉