This Gary Larson Far Side cartoon is an old favorite, and there are many times I envision it during asana practice. As I was in down dog today, taking an extra breath before jumping forward into kapotasana, my mind had that momentary hijack of fear, dread and then this comic, before finally settling on the words whispered to me almost two years ago, ” don’t think about it, you’ve done this before.” The monkey brain never fully goes away, but it all depends on just how much power we give it.
I had practiced at home for the last few days thanks to winter bringing snow and ice as well as school cancellations. I find it so much harder to shut off the negotiations my mind tries to persuade me with, all percolating, trying to convince me to just take a day off…It’s so cold! Sinus headache! Cranky! Stiff joints, and just how cozy and warm staying in bed seems….Yet, I do negotiate, and roll out my mat, let’s just see how some Sun Salutations go, then, hmm, standing sequence, and all of a sudden I’m in the midst of my breath and dristhi, I admit yesterday was tough to get going, but as much as I started off with so much resistance, I was quite content after finishing. I find though, that my commitment to practice, to myself, is like so many long term relationships, sometimes we are just going through the motions, in a self made rut of sorts, but then, in just the next moment, when you least expect it, you catch your breath in awe of what you feel.
Practicing at home can have other issues as well, like living in a household with other people and dogs. I love my pups, but they just won’t leave me alone to practice. (Locking them out of the room leads to howling, crying, and intense door scratching) though I have found over time, they are less curious to be directly involved, I’m learning how to keep focus when one of my dogs starts to lick inside my nostrils while I transition through a vinyasa in down dog, who needs a tissue when you’ve got a dog to assist? I’m debating which of my helpers is working hardest to get me to that next level, is it the golden doodle, Luna, laying next to me, oblivious to her flatulence? The papillon puppy, Rocky, licking my toes and managing to figure out that I can’t transition out of an inversion because he’s standing, tail wagging on the mat, right where I need to bring my feet down, thinking this is a fabulous game? Or contestant number three, the cockapoo, Bella, that finds me irresistible the more sweaty or snotty I get? She likes to sit in my lap during padmasana and gets upset if I don’t let her stay for utpluthih. I’ve learned that everyday, I can only strive to do the best I can, there is no other best, no picture perfect moment, just yoga, the stilling of the changing states of the mind.Sutra I.2
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace