A friend said to me recently, when I was talking about my lack of practice lately, that ones relationship with yoga is just like any relationship and that sometimes it needs space. Yoga and I always come back together. Sometimes for brief periods and sometimes a little longer. And just as we come together, we frequently drift apart. In those moments I feel resentful. Resisting the discipline, the obligation and the image that serves to enhance the practice’s commercial appeal. I resist the people that purport to live by its philosophies and judge their non-conformist conformity and lack of solidity. Their portrayal of an ideal whilst failing to exist in the real world of blood and bones and suffering.
Over the last couple of weeks yoga and I have been through a romantic period. Spending time together every day, committed to making the relationship work. My schedule has been busier than usual and I’ve felt the pull towards that practice to keep me grounded. It’s been a place where I can retreat. Fully immersed in sensation. Thoughts coming and going but not consuming me as they normally would. And I love this. But the aftermath is a challenge. For in the spaces between I become more connected.
Is this not the point of yoga, you ask? To be more connected to one another, allowing a sense of ego dissolution where there is no me and no you? That is pretty much the definition of yoga; union. But here’s what happens when I unite. In letting go of my sense of me-ness I become attuned to everything around me. Your pain is my pain. Your happiness is mine too. And I can’t not feel it. I see everyone’s loss. I see their sadness under their mask. I see their disappointment and I felt their grief. Oh how I felt their grief. And amidst it all I ended up in the foetal position sobbing because I just feel so heavy. It felt like it wasn’t my pain that I was grieving.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m just as much of a narcissist as the next person. My self-interest outweighs any sense of altruism. If I wasn’t so self-interested I wouldn’t be concerned about my own suffering as a result of the world’s suffering. And I am concerned. I want to feel good all the time. Of course I appreciate that that would be absolutely pointless, but it doesn’t stop me chasing rainbows and running from the rain. But in feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders there is a gentle kind of knowing that I’m on the right track. That this heaviness transforms into compassion and maybe then the compassion can move into action. Or if nothing else, at least I’m not sitting on my podium of happiness looking down at the world – I’m right there in the gutter of misery with you.
So while my practice might be bad for me, it’s not always bad for you. It means we can connect more deeply and I’m right there with you.