Running to stand still

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If your life was a U2 song, what song would it be?

I was on my way to a yoga class the other day. When I say ‘on my way’ I mean I was rushing from work to get there on time. Run-for-the-bus kind of rushing. When I got off the bus, I ran some more, cursed the traffic lights for operating to schedule, and didn’t make eye contact with anyone en route for fear it may impact my pace.

I bounded up the stairs to the yoga studio and presented my dishevelled self at the desk, 3 minutes before the class was scheduled to begin.

You made it,” my instructor observed. The calm of his voice, the smell of incense in the studio and the feeling of my bare feet on the floor suddenly felt like the blissful opposite of my chaotic mind.

And that’s when it struck me that my whole journey to yoga was counter-productive to yoga itself. I was frazzled, self-absorbed and irritated. It was most un-yogi-like behaviour. And it certainly was not cancelled out by then laying my hot-and-bothered body onto the mat and taking a few deep breaths.

I was, literally, running to stand still.

That U2 song, says Wikipedia, is about heroin addiction (so please forgive my interpretation) but the paradox is familiar. Race to yoga. Stress before Savasana. Manic before mindfulness.

Another instructor once suggested that yoga is not what you do on the mat – it is what you do all the time. It is in the breath, it is in the calm, it is in the pause. Yoga is aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind and environment.

Oh dear. Then I must be a terrible yogi.

Still, isn’t the alternative worse? Not going, not having that time on the mat, not giving myself the opportunity to breathe or pause, even if that time is sandwiched between the noise, the Rattle and Hum of everyday life?

You made it.” Perhaps that was all that mattered. I was there. I was present. I was doing the poses (some in Mysterious Ways), and I was observing the pauses. The off-the-mat practice will be an ongoing one. How to find internal calm, despite (or through) external chaos. But for now, in this moment, I’m ok.

When I got home, my 5-year-old asked if I’d been to yoga.
“Yes,” I said, wondering if my face was exuding the glow of calm and harmony.
“Did you win?” He is used to the footballers and netballer of the family coming home from matches declaring scores and results. I had to smile at his question.
“Yes!” I decided. “In yoga, everyone wins.”

©2019 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

1 thought on “Running to stand still

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