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  • YAM Patel

Falling off the Yoga Mat

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

I often fall off of the yoga mat, because really, trying to live a yoga life is no easy feat. Out of 7 billion people I am sure only a ocean cruise liner full of people have succeeded in their quest to connect with the universal soul, that truly defines who we are and our connection to all living things.

So although I write about it and share it with others, not a day goes by when I don’t trip.

Let’s start with the physical. One should practice yoga everyday either before sunrise, with sunrise or right after sunset. Just as one should not eat ice cream every day, sometimes an impossible feat. But made a lot easier, if you understand, that sitting for 10-15min and engaging in Pranayama, is fulfilling the physical practice of yoga. I find, 5 min of alternate nostril breathing, 5 min Ujay and 3 min Honey Bee breath, give me the same calm feeling as a 20min asana practice.

No booze, not good for the fine-tuned healthy body. Well, every once in a while I slide off the mat and to the beach bar for one maybe four beers. Off course now that my arm strength has quadrupled from all that planking, I find I can hold large glasses for much longer periods. But off course, the next morning, my body does ask me, what was I thinking subjecting my body to that. Which as it gets older, takes so much longer to recover. But yes every once I a while, it feels good to participate in the human ritual of having a drink and a laugh.

Then there is the EGO, ahh the ego. So true the more knowledge and skills we gain, the more ego we have, even in yoga. We get on our platform, stick our little microphone gadget in our ear and we preach all that new found knowledge to those less knowledgeable. We teach with the Sanskrit names of the asanas, knowing full well that the majority of the people in our classes have no idea what we are saying. We sometimes slip into a pose that few in the class can actually do, not to inspire, but often to show off. We take pictures of ourselves in all sorts of convoluted poses and then post it everywhere, just because we can. It is the human disposition, and not a pretty one at that. I must confess I have passed through many of these stages. That is why it is taught in yoga, that once you acquire ALL the knowledge on how to erase our thoughts, we must erase all that knowledge as well.

Ego, stick it in a box when you practise yoga.

Next there is our constant need to make yoga more exciting and active. Hence the growth of power yoga, beer yoga, get high yoga, yoga on a mat in a pool, yoga on a SUP etc. WHY? The aim of yoga is for us to learn to slow down and focus on one thing for long periods of time. How can we reach the stage of being in an asana where we are comfortable, our breath is stable and our mind focused if we are constantly moving. How can we calm our mind down, if it is constantly engaged in moving on to the next pose. Just as yoga aims to stretch and strengthen our muscle and tendons, to lubricate our joints, it should also stretch and strengthen our mind, by allowing it to hold itself in one place. Our whole existence is one that encourages our attention to move constantly, leaving us in an agitated state. YOGA seeks to do the opposite.

Sometimes I fall into that trap and do a yoga class on line where it is constant movement, seeking yoga as a form of exercise (which it is not). At the end of it I am left feeling very exhausted with a lot of displaced energy. Please remember, the physical practice of yoga is NOT a substitute for extreme cardio exercise, it is a way to reconnect, streeeeeetch, and STRENGTHEN your body, your mind and your soul. A much better option than steroids, and all your veins remain hidden, while your muscles won't look like they may explode out of your body and knock the person out standing beside you.

Then there is way to live a yoga life, be kind, be honest, don’t steal, be empathetic, see other perspective, don’t have anger, judgements, don’t have attachments to the material etc. Not so easy being a good person all the time, especially when you work in the tourist industry or with people all day. Some days I come home and feel so bad about myself, because I struggle so hard to be good to everyone, no matter how unfriendly or rude they may have been.

We humans, lose energy through various holes in our body. The most prevalent are our eyes, nose, ears and mouth. So if we spend all day people talking, looking at screen, smelling unpleasant smells, or listening to loud music, it will drain our energy. In turn we will struggle to be patient and kind.

I often fall off my mat when I am tired and someone comes up and asks me a million questions, well not million, more like 5-18 questions. I find myself being short, unhelpful and not as friendly as I know I am (I don't even own a smart phone, so I can't even imagine how much more annoyed I would be with social media and whatsup pinging me all the time, as well as human interaction!) When the questioners leave, I feel terrible, as I think: they are on holiday, they have done nothing wrong to me and they just would like some information, how are they to know what my day has been like.

As a result I find myself looking for them, not so hard on an island 16 by 32km, and when I find them, I apologize for my behavior. However, it takes a lot of energy to hunt people down (how the cave man did it for food, is really very impressive). The solution: I have learnt that whenever I start to feel agitated, mean, impatient, I take a break. I go for a swim, I arrange for a day off, I go for a walk, I windsurf, I do something with silence.

As a result, I have found that my hunting days have greatly diminished. Phew.

Yoga is an incredible journey. If you get on the path and follow it, it will change your life and you forever. But don’t worry falling off the mat is part of it.

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