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A long way to go

There’s so much that we don’t know about yoga that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, my first trip to Mysore was a few months after Guruji fell ill (in 2007) so, other than a couple of led classes that summer I never had the chance to be a student of his. I was, of course, blessed to have had Sharath as my teacher since then and that is something I am hugely grateful for.

I have heard, second-hand, so many different things that Guruji said over the years though, and one that is on my mind this week is he said that it takes around ten years to get past the ‘beginner’ stage of ashtanga yoga.


For me, I think it’s going to take a bit longer than that. I still feel like a beginner, and when I hear the depth of knowledge that some of the older teachers have (or even some of the exceptional young teachers) it makes me feel like I have a very long way to go.

So along with being fascinated this week by the content of a podcast interview I was listening to with Eddie Stern, it also really made me feel like I know only a tiny percentage of what I need in order to be a truly effective teacher in this lineage. Eddie is, of course, an exceptional teacher and listening to him really made me realise that there is so much more going on in this ashtanga yoga system than we can ever fully comprehend.

Guruji was a master of many different roles; spiritual teacher, physiotherapist, coach, philosopher, priest, trickster, guru. His knowledge of the practical and philosophical aspects of yoga was incredible. And here I find myself following the instruction of my teacher Sharath to teach this method myself, without even five percent of the knowledge that someone like Guruji had. And it begs the question, as they say in India: What to do?

Here is my approach. I feel like, ok I’ve been doing this practice every day for more than a decade, I do know a little bit about it. I’ve also had one of the best teachers in the world for most of that time, so that, hopefully, helps. I’ve experienced ups and downs with the practice over that time too, so I can empathise and also advise my students on how to avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made.

So I suppose what I’m really doing as a teacher is just sharing the lessons I’ve learned through my own practice, as a student. As we all know, the practice itself – done consistently over a long time – is the real teacher.

It is really a wonderful blessing to have a great teacher like Guruji, Sharath or Eddie Stern but, in the absence of someone like that in our home-town we can just keep practising and the theory behind it all will become apparent automatically. We might not be able to articulate the physiological processes that are occurring when we’re doing the asanas (as Eddie was in his interview) but we will feel the difference in our body and mind when we practice regularly.

There is so much happening internally when we practice yoga asanas. So many things are happening on the musculoskeletal, circulatory, nervous and hormonal levels that most of us have no concept of. But, once we have acknowledged that we know nothing we can start to proceed. While we are practising, listening and educating ourselves on the path to attaining the level of mastery in yoga, the best course of action is to follow the instructions of someone who we know has that mastery already. For me that is Sharath and so that is why, at the shala, we try to teach in a way that is as close as possible to the way he taught us.

So, if you ask us a question about the practice (the classic one is “When can I do the next posture?”) we will usually give you an answer that starts with “Sharath says…”

In the meantime, thank you all for your patience. Maybe, in another twenty or thirty years, I’ll have more answers for you.

Listen to Eddie Stern’s interview here

 


New Year’s Resolutions

Well, here we are. New Year’s Day 2018.

When I was a child I always thought we’d have moon-boots and fish-bowl helmets by the year 2000. And yet here we are. Babies born in that year will be entering adulthood this year and there is still an extreme lack of moon-boots and fish-bowl helmets in the clothes shops.

And, by the way, where the hell is my hoverboard? Michael J. Fox really set us up for a big disappointment on that one.

Seriously though, as a yoga teacher (and co-owner of a yoga shala) I’m supposed to sit here at the beginning of a new year and write to you about how 2018 can be a new beginning; the perfect time to take up yoga, or get back to it, or to commit to doing it more regularly.

But I’m not going to do that. New Year’s resolutions don’t work. If we really want to change the way we live our lives we don’t have to wait until the first of January to do it. We can make healthy choices whenever we like.

New Year’s resolutions are problematic in a number of ways, the biggest of which is that we tend not to stick to them in the long-term. Most of us don’t have the required resolve for long-term resolutions. So not only do we end up back where we started, we’ve also thrown a healthy helping of failure on top of ourselves.

So I am proposing a new approach this year. These are my proposals for this year’s resolutions.

Do what makes you feel good. Avoid what makes you feel bad. Always.

If you love doing yoga and it adds to your enjoyment of life then do it. If not, don’t. If eating well makes you feel good, then do that. If eating rubbish in front of the telly makes you feel good, then do that.

The hard part is cultivating the discernment so that you can tell the difference between what makes you feel good from what makes you feel bad. Practising ashtanga yoga can really help with that, but more on that next time.

I’ll give you an example: I love coffee. It makes me feel fantastic too. And a second cup makes me feel even more fantastic than the first. So I should drink more coffee right? The problem is that I can’t sleep if I drink more than one coffee in a day, and even if I drink that one cup of coffee after 8 am (yes, A.M.!) I wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and can’t get back to sleep. Seriously! I didn’t believe it for a long time myself until I finally gave in.

So does coffee make me feel good or bad? Unfortunately, it makes me feel bad (if I drink too much). But, because I’ve realised that it does make me feel awful (I don’t function at all well when I haven’t slept enough) it’s actually easy for me to avoid it, despite me enjoying the taste and the immediate surge of energy.

Yoga philosophy does not teach a morality or a code of ethics, despite yama and niyama being in the yoga sutras (see our last blog post for more on that). Yoga doesn’t have a “ten commandments”. What it does have are guidelines towards happiness and equanimity. So yoga philosophy says: Do what makes you happy, avoid what makes you unhappy. Because we are all, to some degree, suffering from avidya (ignorance) the hard part is to know the difference.

Yoga Sutra II.5: anityāśuci duhkhānātmasu nitya śuci sukhātmakhyātir avidya

Ignorance (avidya) is mistaking the impermanent for the permanent, the impure for the pure, the painful for the pleasant, and the Self for the non-Self


Christmas: A chance to go deeper!
II:31 Jāti deśa kāla samayānavacchinnāh sārvabhaumā mahāvratam
These great vows are universal, not limited by social standing, place, time or circumstance.

This is the thirty-first sutra of the second chapter of Patanjali’s yoga sutras. It refers to the previous sutra, which lists the five yamas (non-violence, truthfulness, not-stealing, continence, and non-greed). The yamas are the first of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga – ashta (eight) anga (limbs). The fact that Patanjali lists the yamas as the first of the eight limbs suggests they are the starting point for all the others.

Patanjali is making it clear that, for serious practitioners of yoga, these observances should not be broken by any excuse (class, place, time or circumstance).

Class: Whether we are upper, middle or working class, royalty, or part of the 1% of billionaires.

Place: Whether we are in Dublin, India, the Sahara Desert, the Arctic circle. Whether we’re at home, at work, at the yoga shala, on holidays or in our parents’ house (can you see where this is going at this time of year?).

Time: Time of day, time of year, time of the month, Christmas Day. Also, the ‘age in which we live’ does not give us an excuse to ignore the yamas.

Circumstance: A lottery win, a stressful time at work, illness, the birth of a new baby, the death of a loved one, any situation we find ourselves in or anything that happens to us; that is circumstance.

So this is very clear. If we want to become yogis and live in a state of equanimity we should try to follow the yamas all the time, regardless of time, place, and our own personal circumstances or history.

That is not easy. In fact, if we were to try and follow all five yamas even for an hour we would start to notice that it is very difficult.

Here’s a suggestion for you over the Christmas period. Pick one yama and observe your ability or inability to follow that for a week. Just to bring one’s attention towards the yamas is the first step in the process.

Pattabhi Jois used to say that, through the practice of the ashtanga yoga method, the yamas (and niyamas) would happen automatically. It depends, of course, what he meant by ‘practice’. I don’t think he just meant the postures and the breathing, bandha, and drishti. To him, practice was a much more all-encompassing term for living the life set out in the yoga sutras.

So if we are to go deeper with our practice we should give some thought to the other limbs. Maybe observing our reactions to the concept of the yamas is a good place to start?

As the old Ram Dass quote goes, “if you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family”. So what better time to start practising the yamas than Christmas?

II:30: ahimsa satyāsteya brahmacaryāparigrahā yamāh
Yama consists of non-violence, truthfulness, not-stealing, continence, and non-greed

Woe is us!

After a rare evening excursion yesterday evening, thanks to my Mother/babysitter-extraordinaire, Suzanne and I got home just before midnight. That’s like staying out until four in the morning for ashtanga yoga teachers! So we fell into bed in the expectation (well hope at least) of an uninterrupted eight hours of blissful shut-eye.

We must have momentarily forgotten that we share our two bedroom apartment with two anti-sleep activists under the guise of our two daughters, Molly (age 4) and Anna (age 2).

I’m not sure why, but every time we are woken up by one of our children (which has been every night except maybe five or six for the last four and a half years) it still feels like an upheaval. Last night was, of course, no different. Actually, it was worse than normal because our girls tag-teamed us, taking it in turns to wake up, meaning we were both awake for about a three hour stretch from 2.30am to 5.30am.

Thankfully today is a Saturday and so it’s our day off but, as I said, this sort of stuff happens basically every night in our home (usually in a less extreme version thank God!).

The thing is, we still need to practice, no matter how tired we are. In fact, the mornings after nights like that are the times when we need the practice the most. After a night of being woken over and over again the next day can easily become a fog of grumpiness and self-pity (I’m the World-Champion at those two things, by the way, ask Suzanne) and without even a small bit of yoga practice that is almost guaranteed.

I have found (and this is no great revelation to most of you of course) that if I even get to do a few sun salutations before my two girls wake up in the morning that my day will go exponentially better than if I try and squeeze out those extra few snoozes on the alarm clock and forego the yoga practice. Sometimes I fail spectacularly and don’t make it onto my mat but mostly I do, and I am so appreciative of the headspace and perspective that I get from even a short practice.

Like almost all parents we both love our two girls more than anything in the world but without the space that yoga practice gives I think we might struggle a lot more to show them the patience and compassion that they need to grow up feeling loved and cared for (despite the threats of being put outside in the cold at three in the morning if they don’t “stop shouting and go back to sleep right now”!!). On a side note, if you want to gauge the progress of your spiritual evolution get a four-year-old to wake you up every night for a week by shouting at the top of her voice and then observe your reaction.

It’s hard being a parent (again, not a revelation) but for me, yoga practice makes it easier, despite the time commitment. I have always heard Sharath saying that, when you have small children, your practice will change and that you should just do as much practice as you can. Guruji was also always encouraging his students to start a family. But there is a reason they coined the phrase “seventh series” in reference to raising children. It’s the toughest thing you’ll ever do. But, like that other hard thing that we do (ashtanga yoga), it’s also one of the most worthwhile.

So to all the parents out there – both current parents and those feeling hopeful of becoming parents – I give you my love and respect.

Fight the good fight and don’t stop practising.

Never stop practising!

No pain, No gain.
No coffee, No prana.
No chapatis, No strength.
No family, No fun.
-Sharath Jois

Why do we practise?

That is a fundamental question. It’s my belief that, if we can formulate a succinct answer to this question – something that we can sum up in one or two sentences – it can go a long way toward helping us maintain our motivation through both good and bad times.

Let’s tease this out a bit…

There are many reasons that people practise yoga so I’ll just list a few here. Some of them will resonate with you and others won’t:

  • To cultivate or maintain a healthy body
  • To cultivate or maintain a healthy mind
  • To increase the likelihood of living a long life
  • To gain a degree of self-awareness
  • To be part of a community of practitioners
  • To achieve mastery over the body
  • To achieve mastery over the mind (and decrease mental chatter)
  • To achieve certain yoga postures for their own sake or for the feeling of accomplishment it brings
  • To challenge oneself on a daily basis
  • To get that amazing feeling that you always get after practice
  • To look good and have a beautiful body
  • To gain recognition from our peers for being advanced in yoga postures
  • To feel empowered by taking responsibility for our own well-being
  • To gain a sense that we a growing and learning throughout our lives
  • To benefit those people close to us by improving our mood/attention-span/awareness/compassion etc.
  • To maintain our sense of identity as somebody who practices yoga
  • To live up to the expectations of others
  • To simply enjoy the feeling of doing the practice

Personally speaking, I am willing to acknowledge that every one of those (to a greater or lesser degree) has acted as motivation for me to practice at some stage during my journey with ashtanga yoga (except for maybe the ‘recognition from our peers’ one). There is no doubt, though, that each of these factors (and I am not pretending that this is an exhaustive list) takes on a different weight depending on the different circumstances that come along throughout our lives.

So I do think it’s worth reviewing this list and adding anything else that feels relevant to you. Then try to really figure out what it is that is currently motivating you to practice. Try to distill it down to one sentence if possible. For example, “I practise because I have noticed that on days when I do practise I feel better, I am more motivated at work, I have more energy, and I am nicer to my co-workers (or at least able to deal with their problems more easily).”

Remembering why we practise is often all we need to get us to actually do it.

And the next time you’re just about to hit the snooze button in the morning or order that take-away in the evening instead of going to practise you can remember that one sentence. Maybe it will help you to get on your mat and maybe it won’t but it’s worth a try, right?

Some days we need every trick in the book to get us to roll out that mat, but we all know that we have never, ever regretted doing it. So I say if you need extra motivation, or even to trick yourself into practising, on any particular day then do whatever it takes.


The distorting prism of pain

I’ve been suffering from something for the past three years that has had a profound effect on the enjoyment I get from practising yoga. It has caused me to question why I practise on numerous occasions and has almost led to me throwing the towel in altogether. In fact, if I wasn’t responsible for teaching at the shala I don’t know if I’d still be practising. It’s self-evident that in order to teach ashtanga yoga one has to practise it, so it is that responsibility that has kept me on track. I have all the students at the shala to thank for that.

Those of you who know me personally (and those of you who read this regularly) will probably know that, in 2014, I developed a very large herniated disc in my lower back which kept me from being able to practise or teach (or sit, walk, or lie down comfortably) for just over three months. It was a long (and expensive!) journey back to practising again that included a lot of help from a really fantastic physiotherapist who understood my love for the practice.

On a side note I have noticed over the years that many practitioners, when they get injured, are reluctant to see a doctor or physiotherapist out of the fear that they will be told to stop practising yoga. If you find the right professional then you can really work together to keep on (or return to) practising. So I always encourage people to get help from someone outside the ‘yogasphere’ rather than blindly continuing with an unhealthy pattern of injury followed by partial recovery.

Anyway, with the help of my physio, Xavier, I was slowly able to re-introduce the asanas over a number of months (albeit none of them looked or felt much like they had done before). Since then I have been practising regularly (with the exception of the odd day when the trappings of having two small children have made it impossible).

At the beginning of my return to practice I was just happy to be able to move my body through some of the asanas and to breathe deeply. Slowly though, I began to realise that the practice didn’t feel the same as it had before. And it wasn’t just having back pain that caused it.

The back pain was just the beginning.

The real problem, the thing that kept me from enjoying my practice and made me want to give up was:

 

FEAR!

 

I was so afraid of injuring my back again that I couldn’t switch off from it and just enjoy practising. I was so conscious of the memory of the pain I had experienced that I couldn’t allow my mind to go to that quiet place where the asanas just flow from one to the next. Citta Vrtti Nirodhah? Forget it!

But I kept practising. Because I know that my life is better when I practise than when I don’t. And if you’re teaching, you practice!

Then, a few weeks ago, it happened again. That pain returned. Excruciating pain. And off I trudged, back to see Xavier again.

But it was different this time. On putting me through a few tests he informed me that it wasn’t the same problem. In fact I’d be fine in a few days. Oh and by the way, that disc problem that you had is not there any more.

I realise now that I was so identified with the pain of a herniated disc and with recovering from that pain that I never noticed that, actually, it wasn’t really there any more. The fear of the pain had become more powerful than the pain itself.

So here I am, a few weeks later, in fear-recovery. My outlook has changed and I’m enjoying practising more than I have for a long time. The fear is still there of course (it’s hard to let it go) but it’s not as strong as it was. I feel like, with time, I might even be able to return to practising with the same intensity as I used to; to really let go, surrender to the practice and enjoy the experience on a daily basis.

I have always loved practising ashtanga yoga but sometimes I felt like I was playing with fire. I sometimes thought I was stupid to keep practising despite the pain I was in, but I always kept going. I feel like I’m entering a period in my journey with this practice during which my love and confidence will be fully rekindled. And I will be a better practitioner and teacher for the experiences that I’ve had.

Then again, who knows what’s in store for us, right?


Let the buyer beware (and the seller)

Suzanne had a minor car accident a few weeks ago. She ‘rear-ended’ a rental van on her way home from the shala. Totally her fault and she was fine. Nobody was hurt (the same could not be said of Suzanne’s pride unfortunately) but because our little Ford Puma was so old and it’s hard to find parts for it (Ford stopped making those cars in 2003) it’s not worth spending the money to fix it up. Poor little car. It was great fun to drive. RIP.

So we needed to buy a new car.

We entered the unknown world of www.donedeal.ie and found an old mini cooper with low enough mileage that we went to have a look at yesterday. The sellers were a very nice retired couple who admitted straight away that they were quite nervous about the whole situation. They’d only ever dealt with dealers when buying or selling cars before. Friends of theirs had warned them “don’t be inviting strangers out to your house”, “there’s loads of scam artists out there, be careful”, all of that sort of thing. Understandable right?

We, of course, were also on the lookout for potential dodgy dealings and so each side  met each other with some small amount of trepidation.

To cut a longer story short (which is something I’m not great at to be honest) the car was running very well. It had been taken care of by the lady who owned it, in fact it was pretty obvious that she had a real love for the car. Also our mechanic checked it out and gave it the all clear, except for a couple of small things that needed to be done on it. The lady’s husband came all the way from Donabate to Dun Laoghaire to show it to our mechanic (a round trip of two hours).

So, taking into account the small repairs needed on it, we offered them a bit less than what they had advertised it for. This was such a sweet lady that when we made our offer she accepted it and then knocked another €100 off the price because she liked us!

The whole thing was a very easy experience for us and, it seems, for them too. So why the initial fear and worry?

It set me thinking about how we relate, on a personal level, to the rest of society in our modern world. We are so inundated with stories of violence, crime and greed that, for most of us, our default setting is one of fear and mistrust of others.

In the age of Rupert Murdoch, Sky News, Fox News and Donald Trump is it any wonder we have fear of what’s going on out in the big bad world. Immigrants are out to get our jobs. Criminals are going to steal our identities online. Hackers are going to empty our bank accounts. A couple from Dun Laoghaire are going to come and look at a car I have for sale and then steal the car and kidnap my husband! It sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud but there is a deep underlying fear bubbling away somewhere inside most of us and, if we are not careful, it can really affect how we relate to the world.

And it’s not just global news that creates this fear. We have our own home-grown fear mongering too, with radio phone-in shows and the like.

A good friend of mine once said this to me and it’s something that I always try to remember when I can:

“If you see something on the news then that is something you definitely don’t have to worry about. By definition ‘news’ is something that doesn’t happen very often”.

If there were sixty murders happening every day in Dublin they wouldn’t all be reported on the six o’clock news. News reports by definition are reports of rare incidents.

Here is a headline you will never see:

Yoga Teacher Buys Second-Hand Car
Seller knocks extra €100 off asking price out of good-will

But it happened and it’s just as real as the gang wars and terrorism. But we don’t hear about it. So we think the world is a dangerous place.

Of course we can find ourselves in bad situations and we must take precautions to make sure we try to avoid that. But the fact is that if we are to indulge ourselves with the stories of horror perpetrated by most of our traditional media we will find ourselves trusting our neighbours less and becoming more and more insular. When a politician comes along who has the power to ramp up that fear inside of us then we can end up in a lot of trouble as a society.

So they are my thoughts this week. Not really anything to do with yoga but I thought I’d share them with you anyway.


Ashtanga Yoga’s Bad Rep

I see it as part of my role as a teacher of ashtanga yoga to change the reputation it has gained of being ‘the hard yoga’.

We get so many students that arrive into the shala (who have done lots of yoga before) who say they are a bit nervous about trying out Mysore-style ashtanga yoga. A lot of the time they have done ashtanga yoga before but only led classes. That’s when I know that I am going to have to work hard to change their opinion of the practice.

Starting with led classes is the absolute hardest possible way to start with ashtanga yoga. A new student goes along to the class and goes through all, or at least half, of the primary series on the first day! It would be like joining a boxing club and being expected to fight for 12 rounds on day one. The main impression new students will get from that is that ashtanga yoga is really hard.

Then, when they first hear about Mysore-style (or ‘self-practice’), they think “Ok, that’s already hard, and now I have to memorise the sequence too!?” You can see why that would be a little intimidating for a new student.

I want to put this on the record once and for all…

Ashtanga yoga was NEVER intended to be taught that way.

It takes most people years to learn the whole of the primary series. And many never even get all the way to the end of that. That’s absolutely fine.

The idea of the traditional Mysore-style method is that each student can start (and continue) at their own pace with the practice. The postures are taught one by one, at a sensible pace, so that the student can build up strength, flexibility, stamina and concentration over a long period of time. In that way, not only is it so much easier for a student to build up towards doing the primary series but it actually feels good along the way, and it’s a lot safer for the body.

Almost all of us have the desire to learn more and more postures but it doesn’t take very long in this practice to get out of our depth. Sometimes it’s fun to try a few of the later postures, beyond what we have learned. If, though, we were to suddenly decide that we were gong to do that every day we would end up sore, injured and worn out pretty quickly.

Ashtanga yoga, learnt and practised in the way it was intended, is a beautiful practice that can give us so many incredible benefits.

It saddens me to see that people are intimidated by the practice because of the way it has been taught to them in the past.

How many more students would come to ashtanga yoga and gain its benefits if they didn’t have misconceptions about what it really is?

Spread the word!


The initial experience of yoga

One of my favourite things about sharing this Mysore-style ashtanga yoga with new students is how the experience of the stillness of yoga is available right from the beginning.

I’ve heard variations of this expression so many times:  “I’ve never done yoga but I know I’d be terrible at it”. Inherent in this statement  is, of course, a very big misunderstanding of what yoga is (I’ve written about this a bit before). Of course, some people find the practice a bit easier than others and that is no different to anything else in life. The important part though, the internal part, is what I’m really interested in. It’s irrelevant whether or not a student can touch their toes on day one.

It’s the struggle to touch one’s toes (or balance in Trikonasana or Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana let’s say) that is the thing that makes this practice really worthwhile. And that happens for almost everyone right from the very beginning of their journey.

The beautiful thing about ashtanga yoga is that all of us in the Mysore-style room are operating at our limits, from beginners to ‘advanced’ practitioners. And so we are all having roughly the same experience (I say ‘roughly’ because we know from our own practice that even we ourselves are not having exactly the same experience of the practice from one day to the next).

That’s what I love about this practice. You don’t have to do it for ten years before you understand the point (although it can take that long and even longer for a lot of us!!). Right from the first vinyasa of the first Surya Namaskara the experience of yoga is available to all of us, regardless of our background.


The time I gave up yoga

Sometimes being a practitioner of ashtanga yoga is blissful. Bright, warm, sunrises on the way to practice; that feeling of freedom and space in your body and mind; the shared experience and understanding you have with your fellow practitioners.

But sometimes it’s really tough.

There’s the dark, cold winter mornings (or if you’re not a morning practitioner there’s the when-do-I-eat-during-the-day problem), the stiffness, striving to achieve an asana you’re stuck on while also practising detachment from the process. The whole process can really wring you out sometimes.

And then you get injured.

And the whole thing feels like it could just grind to a halt.

In the dark days of 2009 in post celtic-tiger Ireland, Suzanne and I were living in a cold, damp, mouldy old house and I hadn’t done a gig for 6 months. We were broke and I could see my breath in the kitchen when I was making breakfast in the mornings. I was nursing torn cartilage in both knees which had been a big problem for about two years by that stage. Even though I was practising every day I really wasn’t enjoying it and I felt like my knees weren’t ever going to get any better.

So I gave up yoga.

I made the decision that I would just do some other excercise (I chose cycling) and I would just do that every morning at my usual practice time. And then I would learn a meditation practice. So, it would just be the same thing right? Healthy (or even healthier?) body and healthy mind.

I was so happy to be free from the pain and drudgery that my daily practice had become. And I really enjoyed my cycle along the coast that first morning.

But I lasted three days.

After three days I missed practising so much. I missed the daily ritual of rolling out the mat. I missed the feeling of that breath in my body. I missed moving and creating that space in my body. But mostly I missed the headspace that I had become so used to over the previous 3 or 4 years of daily practice.

I had become so accustomed to the daily benefits of ‘taking practice’ that I had started to take it all for granted. “Sure what do I need yoga for anyway, all it does is hurt my knees”. I had forgotten that so much of what was good in my life had come about because of my comittment to this practice.

And so there I was, three days later, “ekam inhale, dwe exhale”, feeling in a weird way that I had failed in my commitment to turn my back on this sometimes demanding practice, but also delighted to have made the decision that my life was better with ashtanga yoga in it.

We all go through our ups and downs, both in life and in practice, and for me I had to fully stop in order to truly appreciate what I had. As Otis Redding said “You don’t miss your water, till your well runs dry”.

I haven’t looked back since.