This year has been incredibly challenging for me, and instead of using my practice to help me through it, I neglected it. I’m not just talking about asana (physical practice) here, I’m talking about my yoga practice in its entirety.
As we move into this new month, I realise this isn’t a time for regret, for what the last 6 months could have been, but it is an opportunity for growth and learning. An opportunity for me to go back to basics with my practice.
I’m going to start with a quick review of the Yama and Niyama – checking my personal connection to these and how I have or haven’t met them in the last 6 months. It might seem odd to share this publicly, but it’s important to me to show that as much as I’m a yoga ‘teacher’, I’m first and foremost a yoga ‘student’, I’m still learning.
Ahimsa, have I practiced non-violence? I’ve done all I can to practice non-violence externally, but when it comes to myself, I have not treated myself kindly. I broke my own advice which is to talk to yourself as though you’re talking to a loved one.
Satya, have I practiced truthfulness? I feel positive about how I have been open during the last 6 months. Whether that’s how it’s impacted my mental health, how I feel about returning to teaching, and even how communication has been a real focus in my personal relationship – when you’re together 24/7 communication is key!
Asteya, have I practiced non-stealing? Deborah Adele also includes comparing ourselves to others in Asteya, which is definitely something I’ve been doing. Comparing myself to other yoga teachers who have created amazing content and resources during this time, comparing myself to those who have been really productive. Has this served me? No.
Brahmacharya, have I practiced non- excess? I haven’t, but I’m also aware that this was very much what I needed in this time, and it served me. Whether it was comfort eating, binge watching Netflix, or playing games on my phone (I discovered Killer Sudoku!). Technically, this was non-excess, but it served me, it helped, and at the time it felt right. This is something I can address moving forwards though, to ask myself, is this still serving me?
Aparigraha, have I practiced non-possessiveness? As my income was reduced to nothing in a matter of days, I’ve had to become a lot more frugal, a lot more aware of possessions, and better financially! The only thing I have become possessive of is my house, to the point where I feel uncomfortable leaving it, again, something to address in the coming weeks.
Saucha, have I practiced purity/cleanliness? I suppose the honest answer here is that I have been neglecting self care, during lockdown it made it very easy to enjoy spending time in pyjamas! Again, introducing my usual routines over the coming weeks will help my find more balance here.
Santosha, have I practiced contentment? To quote Deborah Adele “contentment… cannot he sought… contentment can only be found in acceptance and appreciation of what is in the moment.” This is definitely something I’ve neglected in the last few months. At the start of the year, when I was newly self employed and teaching, I found so much contentment. But with a lot of things happening outside my control, this was quickly lost. I feel that my thoughts were / are very much valid however, these have not been “normal” times, but it certainly gives me something to think about for future unexpected events.
Tapas, have I practiced self-discipline? I suppose this is summed up by my thoughts on Bramacharya and Santosha…change scares me, and this is something I need to work on.
Svadhyaya, have I practiced self-study? This I have been doing, with a lot going on in the world it has been a time for study and learning, for dismantling internalised prejudices and addressing these.
Ishvara Pranidhana, have I practiced surrender? Lockdown put a lot of us in a position of surrender, decisions were taken out of our hands, our lives were impacted in a way I doubt any of us have ever experienced. But did I fully surrender to the situation? Or did I fight it? I’m not sure, is the honest answer.
So, for now those are just some general musings. I’m going to be delving deeper into these over the coming months. Sharing snippets of what I’m reading, my own thoughts and potentially asking some questions too.
Thank you for reading.