A most wonderful (eh-hem) time of year…

What a wonderful time of year! I mean the snow is falling and friends are calling after all, aren’t they? It’s December and with it comes ever-shortening days (leading up to the solstice) and the pressure to deliver – and no I don’t mean the big guy’s one-night only appearance at every stop around the world, I mean the pressure to be “on.” Whether we are two or 92, there are expectations placed upon us to perform, and that can be daunting, overwhelming and downright humbuggy even. I love this time of year, truly I do, and I, like many of us, feel the fuss and often drain that this time of year brings. So, what do we do about?

Well, that depends on you. — Not what you thought you were going to read, was it? You see, from an Ayurvedic, the sister science to yoga, perspective we each experience the world through the lense of our doshic, the three genetic constitutions which define our own beings, the world around us, and everything in it, makeup, and each of us has a unique constitution, and set of imbalances. As such it is nearly impossible for me, or anyone really, to tell the masses how to feel better when they’re feeling down, because each of us experiences “down” in different ways.

Some of us might be sad, some mad and some may seem utterly giddy, and yet really what you may be seeing is their nervous energy seeping out of every pore. *Deep breath* that’s a lot to take in. What I can say, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind is that yoga will fix it, whatever ‘it’ is to you, today. Yoga, union or to yoke, is the practice (yes, practice – it takes time and effort to master) of coming together as one. Not the oneness of sharing gifts, or even a meal with one another, but the oneness that presents itself through the practice of sitting together in complete comfort and steadiness.

Remember last week, when I wrote a little bit about sutra, thread, 2.46: sthira sukham asanam, calmness and steadiness in posture, this comfort and steadiness are needed throughout our experiences and perceptions, especially when we feel overwhelmed, so that we may respond instead of react and love rather than h*** (I don’t say/write the H-word, because it serves no purpose, except to remind us that we can and should(!) do better) and in turn create a world in which every time of year is wonderful, just because we treat each other wonderfully.
***NOTE: No matter how muddy life feels or stretched you feel, if you are feeling anything other than love for yourself today, please know that we at the Playful Yogi love you and you are not alone, please reach out to someone for help!       

Where comfort meets steadiness, we learn

I am by no means a Sanskrit, the original language of yoga, expert nor do I claim to be a scholar of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a set of texts which guide us towards living a yogic life, but through my yoga teacher training I’ve learned a little bit about one sutra, thread, in particular: sthira sukham asanam, Sutra 2.46. This yoga sutra is used to explain the concept that in yoga posture we should feel comfortable and steady, always. In yoga and in life, comfort and steadiness aren’t always an easy thing to come by. What if, though, we were to manage our expectation of these things, would they become easier to gain?

For instance, for some people standing on one foot is a very challenging thing to do, while for others it seems that those individuals could stand on one foot all day, never wobbling in the slightest. Does that mean that those people in the former category, the wobbly people, shouldn’t ever try standing one foot because they can’t do so easily, with comfort and steadiness? Of course not! Depending on what’s going on in our individual bodies at any given time, we may need more accommodations and/or more time in achieving our goal, to stand on one foot, but it’s a goal we can work towards, if we have the capacity to do so.

It’s important to remember, thought, that it is both possible to work towards a goal and never achieve that goal, and still have a very comfortable and steady yoga practice, and life. Above you read that the sutras are a series of concepts which guide us towards living a yogic life, yoga is life and life is yoga. It doesn’t matter if you can do fancy yoga poses, or even “easy” yoga poses for that matter, nor do you have to be able to meditate, or chant, or practice mudra, seal, you can live a yogic life simply by living honestly and practicing comfort and steadiness, always.

You see, math or reading might be a challenge for us, or perhaps sitting still during class is our biggest challenge, in those cases, sometimes we need more time or extra help learning how to find comfort and steadiness in those practices, but they are practices. Everything we do is an opportunity to practice being comfortable and steady, we might have an interaction with a friend, peer or an authority figure that is challenging, and our ability to stay comfortable and steady in our reaction is confronted. It’s then that we have the opportunity to choose to practice being our best selves and respond with comfort and steadiness, but it isn’t always easy to do so, and that’s the challenge.

The opposite is true, too. Maybe we easily know how to respond to, or navigate through a situation, but if we’re not awake to our response, if we respond without intention, we’re no more steady than we are in the face of a real challenge. It’s great to be relaxed in a situation, but we must also be aware to what’s going on around us. Our world isn’t one of isolation, every single one of our actions has a consequence, intended or unintended, and if we are unaware of our actions those consequences risk other people’s comfort and steadiness, even if our own comfort and steadiness remain in tact. We don’t have to be successful every time we try something, in fact, we learn more from failure than we do from success. But, for the comfort and steadiness of all, we must practice and be aware in order to continue to learn.