A few days ago, I returned to the yoga class after an absence: I was at my parents’ place, I over-ate, I did no exercise and I drank a lot of alcohol. And the yoga studio that I go to can get quite intimidating – sometimes, there are over 40 people there and it is HOT yoga. On a bad day, you’d feel nauseous, you’d feel like fainting, you’d feel sick, you’d feel like running out of the hot room and never coming back. Those sensations are never easy, and they hit you, even if you are a seasoned practitioner, if you break your routine and do naughty things in your break.
I showed up super early for my first class so that I can place my mat near the door. So that I can run out easily, you understand.
Sure enough, the torture in me began even before we finished the breathing exercise. That was in the first 10 minutes, and I had another 1 hour 20 minutes to go. Another 26 postures…or more? I can’t think. I just wanted to run out of the room.
Or lie down on my mat and quell my physical discomfort.
But I remained standing and commanded my body to obey, overriding the complaints of my brain. My brain shouted even louder, ‘Sit down, for f*ck’s sake, you’re 50 and you’ve been boozing, what d’ya expect???” But long years of training made it possible for me to bring the volume of screaming down as I forced my attention back to my breath and tried to find stability in its comforting presence. When my brain was calmer, it did an assessment – do I REALLY need to lie down, leave the room?
It was just my brain making a drama out of my situation, based on my previous unpleasant encounters with the puking up sensation in a stuffy, hot yoga room. But the reason we do this – i.e. be committed to our sometimes uncomfortable practice – is that it trains our brains on how to function optimally in the outside world (as well as lots of other esoteric goodies like self-enlightenment).
Here’s the practical correlation between yoga and relationships:
- Our yoga mat is the relationship and home we share with someone. Beyond the mat is the world we live in. When we get on our mat to do our practice is the analogy of how we live our lives everyday. How committed are you to your life, your home, your partner, or do you just want to leave your mat? Do you want to lie down after the first 30 minutes or do you do your best for the full duration? Do you just go through the motions mindlessly for the full session, without presence, without awareness? When we are in love, we are fully present in the moment, aware of the ‘highs’, but after a while our brain strays when routine makes it boring – we take our partners for granted, we begin looking outside. But a long, committed practice of yoga teaches you to bring your attention back to the small hidden gems in everyday things and be grateful for them. That’s what makes life good everyday.
- Do you give up easily, i.e. miss practice or cut it short or make excuses? Or do you persevere doggedly with the boredom/sick feeling/inconvenience, knowing that most bad times are transient? Nothing lasts forever. If you just run away from your mat at the first sign of struggle, how many relationships/homes/partners will you go through in a lifetime?
- If you focus on yourself during your practice instead of looking around comparing, you will learn to be content and grateful with what you have rather than wanting what goes on outside. Because having that fantastic fit body is probably not yours in this lifetime – you have to learn to find joy in what is yours.
- And if you are a parent, the best thing you could do for your child is to make sure that his world beyond his mat feels safe to him. Because in knowing that he has a safe space just a small step away will give him the strength, confidence and security to continue whenever he feels that he can’t take it anymore. To know that there is a safety blanket waiting to embrace you (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) makes a huge difference in a person’s life and his/her relationship with others….and after all, the ability to sustain long-term fulfilling relationships is one of the hallmarks of success in life (rather than just material and professional which can be rather empty without the human factor). And make it a joyful place to be. Be a yogic parent – create that ommm space ❤
Photo: My mum with my daughter and my nephew, mucking around. She creates such a joyful, welcoming space for us all to return home to. Home, a safe and happy place, is she.