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Yoga on the Road

My yoga practice has taken a beating this past year. Yoga on the road is a challenging thing. In one place my floor is a slab of rough concrete, so I hold my headstand for less than a minute or sometimes forgo it all together.2017-01-19 12.27.48 In another place my room is so cluttered with furniture that I can hardly roll out a mat, and when I manage to get upside down, I’m peering at the underside of a bed and balls of dust gathered in the corner. Then for a few blessed days I find myself on an open rooftop, practising to the rising sun with an unobstructed view of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. What bliss, what inspiration, what peace and exhilaration in my practice!

The road I am experiencing is quite literal, but “road” is also a metaphor for life itself. Life is a journey through time, characterised by one thing after another. Something happens, and as a result something else happens. You can be sure that something will ALWAYS happen. Think about it. When have you ever experienced the total absence of a “happening” propelling you towards some future action?

2017-01-25 10.20.52Travel can accelerate the pace with which the happenings appear, and certainly it provides more diversity. The road traverses all sorts of landscapes, jungles and deserts, hovels and palaces, tropical seas and snow-capped mountains. But on the road as at home, you cannot cherry-pick between them, selecting only the fruit that comes without blemish.

Because no matter how hard you try for the perfect life or the perfect setting for your yoga practice, and no matter if eventually you think to have found it, sooner or later something will happen to mar that perfection. The tropical beach has sand fleas. Life contains it all: the good, the bad and the ugly, and no one is immune to grief.

In the Gita (to my mind the greatest book on yoga ever), Krishna tells Arjuna “Yoga is skill in action”. So what does that really mean???

2017-01-24 16.45.32It has nothing to do with accomplishment in practice in the sense of a technique well executed, so please do not fall into that delusion. It is a trap where many people get stuck. Rather, it has to do with the manner in which you react to what arises: moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath. It has to do with the quality of mind that engages with “one thing after another”.

My Buddhist teacher once said it is like the action of a Japanese brush painter, who contemplates the design of his canvas in its entirety, then makes one simple brush stroke. It is unlike that of the chess player, who looks ahead twenty-five moves, thinking . . . “if this happens, then this, then that, then the other . . .”

Some people say it is “being in the moment”, which is true, but that is not the whole of it, because the moment is not just a unit of time. The moment is a doorway to Eternity, in the Gita understood as Krishna himself, and dwelling in that Ultimate Reality is what ‘being in the moment” is really about.

In Chapter 11 Krishna reveals his full nature to Arjuna saying, “See all the universe, animate and inanimate, and whatever else you wish to see; all stands here as one in my body.”

2017-01-19 10.43.10“Being in the moment” is not just being absorbed in whatever is happening on the surface. It is not just being wholly present with that concrete floor or dust under the bed or balmy breeze over the Caribbean. It is realising (and not just intellectually) that all those surface manifestations dwell within—or more precisely dissolve into– the one Ultimate Reality. It is dwelling there with them too.

You experience time because that is what the drama of life calls for, but actually you dwell in eternity. “Skill in action” follows from that. If “being in the moment” IS that dwelling, then “skill in action” means acting from that place, because acting from that place can never be anything but skilful. It also follows that with that “skill” any talk about “non-attachment” becomes superfluous . . . because who is there to attach to what anyway?

Finally, I believe, my yoga on the road–challenging as it may be on the one hand–is actually a great teacher. The road keeps the scenery changing, and the practice keeps reminding me that all of it is included. There is no such thing as good practice and bad practice. There is only practice. And the dwelling place it leads too.

2017-01-18 11.53.35The important thing is to show up. And to keep showing up, no matter what. The practice is the doorway, opening up to the timeless from every conceivable point along the road. Finally it becomes apparent that the door itself is only an illusion. There is nothing to divide, no borders to draw. Differences belong to the surface only. Beneath that, everything dissolves. It is, as Krishna explains, all standing here as One in His Body.

Do you need some inspiration for showing up? Is any element of “spiritual dryness” entering into your practice? If so, then come work with me. I know what it is like because I’ve been there too. I know the passion; I know the dryness. And I know that particularly in our world today, we need to come together at times to align our practice with like-minded others on the path.

Let’s do it together!

A retreat, workshop or course may be just the thing to reinvigorate your practice. I have a number of events planned. Here’s what’s coming up soon:

Yoga and Jyotish Workshop, including strong practice, meditation and introduction to Jyotish:
Saturday 4 February 11 am – 4 pm at Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center, Truckee, California

So for any of you in the area, please come join me for yoga in this snowy paradise!

Advanced Teacher Training Module in Yoga Philosophy at the Elbow Room, Dublin: March 9 – 12. 9.30 -5.30.

This one is for yoga teachers. As you embody understanding, you teach from a place of authenticity.

Retreat to La Rosa dei 4 Venti, Puglia, Southern Italy:
October 21 –28

This is the highlight of the year for me, my annual retreat to Puglia.

La Rosa is a real power spot for yoga. Here you will experience full immersion into a total yogic lifestyle. You will reap profound benefits, able to sustain you no matter what is coming next along the road for you . . .

2016-10-28 13.45.35Come with me this year to Puglia!
Early bird special is still on but not for long. I know a number of you have been on the fence. If you hop off, you can still avail of the special.

Contact me now to book your place and secure those early bird savings! Look forward to hearing from you.

With many blessings to all,
And happy travelling wherever you are on the road!

Om shanti,
Marianne xx