Ride the Bus of Yoga. Engage with it
I have been doing yoga for a while now. None of the fancy instagram, wendy- bendy asana girl, but surely a bit more serious for someone with a regular day job. If Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours were the benchmark of being an expert, I would probably put myself at 7,000 Hours, across the 8 limbs of Yoga ☺ Every once in a while, I like to deepen my understanding and study. As part of that journey, Asia Yoga Conference in Hong Kong, has been an annual sojourn.
The conference celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Its a delight to listen to some 50+ teachers talking about topics ranging from Bhagvad Gita to Backbending and Spinal anatomy; from mindfulness & neuroscience to panel discussions on yoga traditions. This Yoga diet is a must anyone who loves the practice. Not all lessons are new, but a refresher helps immensely.
My top 5 take aways from Day 1:
- Master Art of Plurality: If you can attend 4 classes with 4 different opinions on how an asana should be done, and still love all those teachers — By God you have mastered the Art of Plurality. Each teacher brings years of expertise, knowledge of bio-mechanics, body &bones. Each carries his / her own theory, opinion, logic and belief systems. They cringe and smile at different things. Some love the natural curvature of the spine, some prefer a slightly flat-ish back. In a lunge, some love the back heel grounded, others prefer it in the air. Each of them know exactly what they are doing and why, each makes sense by themselves. Perfect sense. However, beyond a point, it doesnt matter. It is not about their opinion, but your acceptance. Your body has an inherent intelligence, make it talk to you for a final judgement. Master the plurality, but also SUIT yourself.
- Fanaticism begins where Space ends: In the same breath, If you stick to just your way as the “right way”, you miss the opportunity to listen to other powerful thoughts & ideas. When one clogs that “free space”, fanaticism begins. One of the principles of Yoga and life in general is to — Create space . Eat half stomach full, leave space in the stomach for food to digest — Create space in the muscles to expand — Create space in the mind, clear the junk for new thoughts to emerge. Tight muscles and tight thought processes dont help anyone. Create Space. Leverage it.
- Space vs Over Leverage : Yes, Tight muscles hurt, but dont over leverage either. Extra wendy-bendy muscles are a sign of an upcoming disaster. A controlling, communist superstructure is as disastrous as an over leveraged, capitalist banking system. Neither helps.
- Listen to your gut. But not a weak, leaky gut: Circling back to the body’s natural intelligence — Yes, Listen to your gut, but first, make it strong, fierce & fearless. Be mindful of the food you eat, the way you practice, and the emotions you carry. If you remove fear from the mind, your stance, pose and posture reflects it all. Asana practice should demonstrate that you are reliable and trustworthy. Make positive, strong emotions a part of your physical and meditative practice.
- Don’t let Ego come in your way — Ego is a funny thing. It works both ways and talks in many ways. Its Ego, when you say — Oh, I want to do THAT asana… I want a picture like that for my instagram… I WILL master Handstand in 21 days…I WANT that car.. I want that promotion. Ego also manifests in the opposite way, when one doesn’t try at all. Disengagement from a task is Ego’s way of protecting itself, from not failing by not even trying.
- Don’t let life pass you by...Dont disengage. When we disengage, we save the bruises, but we dont live either. Live with engagement. Engage with the muscle, but dont obsess with it. Engage with emotions, but dont get consumed by them. Love your ideology, but also engage with those who dont subscribe to your views. Engage with people who are different from you. Engage with the community, ideas and democracy.
Engage with life . It’s a wonderful sport.
PS: Also engage with Yoga. Its wonderful