Staying in and slowing down
Have you wondered what makes a yogi?
A friend and I discussed this in earnest over tea recently. She shared that even though she has been practising since 2012, she has never put her foot behind her head; neither is she interested to. However, she doesn't quite know what to say when curious friends assume she does such gymnastic feats. How can she explain that her practice is her solace, and that it gives her both the courage and strength to do what she knows to be right?
This same friend chose to miss a special yoga class she had been looking forward to, so she could stand up for a domestic helper who was being threatened by a foreign worker near the yoga studio.She also takes time out of her busy schedule to visit the mother of a client who lives overseas, so the elderly lady wouldn't feel lonely; proactively thanks the driver of every bus she rides on; and brings freshly baked muffins to share at the studio, "just because".
She reminds me so much of another lady I met through my classes, who spends most of her free time volunteering at an animal shelter. She was badly mauled and traumatised by a rabid dog, but after healing from her operation, went right back to volunteering at the same shelter, because "who else would care for them, otherwise?".
Pretzel potential or not, if you ask me, they are most definitely yogis — very advanced ones at that! You see, while most of us spend hours building our proficiency in asana, pranayama and the like, they have so naturally come to embody the greatest lesson and takeaway of yoga, or any spiritual practice — that is to selflessly and courageously rise above one's individual needs, in order to do the right thing. Even when it's challenging; especially when it's challenging.
In these unsettling times, when our primal survival instincts may see us slipping into more self-centered ways of thought and action, it comforts me to know that these friends of mine are out there, doing what they've always done — being loving, caring, kickass human beings. It is my hope that sharing their small acts of heroism will inspire us all to be better, and do better.
As our beloved Mother Earth takes a much needed breather, let us be reminded to do the same. We may even come to enjoy the shift in pace and these long, languid days. I have put together a list of my favourite books for quiet evenings, a lunch-from-home recipe, and a real and raw hour-long vinyasa sequence I recorded, while praying my cats wouldn't wake up from their afternoon nap and meow the house down. (It's so real you'll catch me dropping my phone somewhere at the halfway mark.) I hope it inspires you to make the most of this period of collective slowing down.
And at any time the uncertainty or anxiety threatens to overwhelm, consider taking a few deep breaths before asking yourself: "What would love do?"
I hope your answer brings clarity, ease and grounding.
With all my love,