I’m about 6 months into my daily practice – since April I reckon I’ve missed about 15 days of practice. Speaking of 15 days – that’s my current ‘streak’ of non-stop practice (not counting Moondays).
I had a remarkable week of asanas; remarkable first of all that I practiced at all given my workload right now. It was always going to be a busy week as I was coming back from two weeks off. I put in about 55 hours and needed to be in the office 3 days – so that’s another 6 hours I spent commuting. In spite of this I practiced every day including three 4:00 am practices.
I can’t really prove this but my ability to keep practicing through the hectic periods actually improves my performance at work…and it’s not just the physical stamina that the asanas give me, There’s something else – something mental or maybe even spiritual. I seriously buy it – I actually enjoy the challenges my work throws at me and I reckon it’s because of my yoga. I can’t put my finger on it though. It’s just a feeling. Sure, I’m calmer, more balanced and have a better sense of perspective. Of course I’m able to work harder longer. But there’s something else – I’m just simply better. I hear and see things better. My concentration and focus is better. I grasp the situation better, I think better and articulate myself better.
Back to my practices – they were good ones this week. We’ve enjoyed an Indian Summer in Southern Ontario and the mornings have been warm. I sweated and my poses were deep. In terms of breakthroughs I had a minor one – my head to the ground for the first time in Upavishta Konasana A. I wish I’d taken some kind of video diary over the past six months so that I could look back and see how far I’ve come in my asanas. I know I’m not supposed to be concerned with my progress but I can’t help but note that the progress has been fast and steady since I went to a daily practice.
I’m still thinking about austerity by the way. I’m playing with the notion in my mind and working out what it means for me. For me it means circumspection and economy rather than self-deprivation. An austerity is to eat and drink simple food moderately rather than to starve. So I’m trying it on; being mindful of what I buy and continue to own to ensure they are things I need rather than want; carry my lunch and water with me to work; avoid coffee and tea and alcohol. There is a limit though; I’m a customer-facing professional and I’m expected to dress accordingly. A pair of cheap jeans and a t-shirt is austere, but it wouldn’t do for work. I don’t watch any television – except football and the odd movie. Watching football is not necessary – it would be something indeed if I ever broke that habit.
Some of my more yogic habits are as firmly entrenched however. I’m as likely to eat that dead racoon I passed on the way home Thurday night as I am to eat poached salmon (never mind roast beef). But this habit (vegetarianism) is not an austerity…it’s just Yoga – specifically the ahimsa (non-violence) and aparigraha (taking of wholesome sattvic foods) aspects of Yama. Without it I think asanas are pointless – but that’s just my opinion.
Back on austerity though, on the whole I agree with the notion that ‘the things you own end up owning you’ and I have an agenda – to own less and less as time goes by. I don’t mean money because I need to save for myself and my family. What I do mean is the sheer mass of detritus that one accumulates…you know…the junk in boxes in the basement or garage; the tangle of AC adapters for phones and appliances long since made redundant lying in bottom drawers; books already read and not to be read again that continue to clutter the bookshelf. Time to get rid of it all.