For many of us, Adeline’s penchant for asking thought provoking questions after class is an everyday routine that I have come to enjoy and watch. It is in this context, me sitting on the bench, drinking water, across from the teachers’ chair and her looking over while posing a question, that this piece comes to be.
Her question wasn’t so much “when enough is enough” but rather what keeps us going in our own practice and the choices we made to keep the practice.
It was also then when I remembered replying that it isn’t so much that the practice changes. It doesn’t. Each session, we get on the mat, we do our surya namaskars and then get to the other poses.
Some may be more challenging than others (I’m looking at the Marichyasana) and perhaps if one is to think beyond the difficulty and challenges of the pose, it would sometimes be – what did I do to myself before this session that made this pose easier/harder?
For me, the practice has taught me lots through the years – how the body moves in the morning vs that of evening practice; how the marichyasana are quite hard to do when one has food in the stomach and so forth.
Over the years, I have refined over and over again my answer to what I have done to myself to make my yoga practice more difficult.
It all started first with smoking – how that severely compromised my stamina and left me breathless half way through Led or Mysore classes. I remember the early days when my body would crave the taste of one cigarette after each class and it took restraint to resist the craving.
Slowly, I quit many other things, such as soda and too much processed sugar. For fear of sounding like a feel good story, I’ll just skip to the point where I quit alcohol.
Alcohol used to be something I enjoyed – sake, white wines, scotch. It stopped being enjoyable after I found myself needing a drink every night to sleep, to function, to make it through the night over the covid period.
Quitting alcohol was easy, dealing with people’s reactions was interesting. To some, my alcohol drinking was healthy, manageable and hence the surprise as to when I decided to go dry.
On a biological level, I found myself more lucid and calm – which helped in my yoga practice and convincing myself to get out of bed for 6:30 am Mysore lessons. It has trained my mind and body in such a way that feeling groggy after drinks no longer appeal to me.
The cotton-like sensation on your tongue each morning after a night of drinking became something I did not miss. Furthermore, the feeling of falling over while trying to get into any balancing pose is not something desired.
I’m not sure if these choices have made me particularly take my yoga practice more seriously. I believe that they have a far wider effect in centering me in my life, my practice by providing the clarity behind each of my decisions and empowering me through understanding why I made the decisions like dedicating myself to a morning Mysore practice.