It is cold, I am somehow feeling really cold, as the evening sets in and the winter darkness quickly envelopes everything. I have just finished a disturbing text conversation with someone, and I am very upset, and miserable. And cold.
Harish is teaching the class tonight, and eventhough I have a couple of people to meet and counsel about their well-being, I am not in a mood for anything, not even to practice. Usually, helping people find a way is therapeutic for me, but so close to an upset, and feeling as cold as I am, I cannot thaw out.
I step into the class, my mind and body in a state of trauma.
I am in a miserable world of my own. Mostly I am talking to myself and cannot hear Harish giving instructions. The initial part of the class, the opening prayer, Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma, and Surya Namaskar pass in a haze, mostly in a state of utter resistance. Some of my students are within the range of my vision, and a part of me, the teacher and mentor is observing them. Next to me, two mats away, I am keeping an eye on Hardeep and her progress in class, and the new, elderly couple in front of me have my constant, but partial attention. Mostly I am miserable.
Harish calls out the Headstand, and then the Shoulderstand. I notice, indifferently, while holding the pose, that I have a rounded tummy, some extra stuff I picked up in my recent travels. In the Plough I struggle with my breath and with the midriff. I am a bit annoyed now with myself for being in this condition. I can also feel the after effects of some coffee and some extra peanuts, had at the wrong time, just an hour before class. Yes, in addition to being upset, I am now also annoyed.
After the Fish, I usually feel better. Today the difference is marginal. I was in such a cloud at the beginning of the class, that I cannot say if I am better – yes, I am no longer cold, at all, and that is a blessing.
The class runs on its on tempo as usual, and I am still on the margins, going along. The Sitting Forward bend, the Cobra, the Locust (I struggle to get my legs off the ground) and the Bow (Harish does not make us hold long enough – my aching upper back needs it a lot today!), morph into the Spinal Twist and the Crow. I mindlessly wade through the Standing Forward bend and the Triangle, and flop down for the final relaxation.
Eight minutes later, Harish gets everyone up for the final prayer.
I have just completed the Sivananda class, mostly in a daze and for the millionth time.
Today it was 60 minutes, and at other times, it is 90 minutes.
Harish pauses for a moment, as he usually does. There is silence, and stillness. Nothing moves, outside or inside.
It is at this moment, that I feel, I connect with, I am, Santosha, contentment.
Sitting there, waiting for everyone to leave, I feel human again. I am warm, and I am not miserable anymore. I feel better than I did when I came to class. And I will go home and take care of the rest of my life in a better way. I will not be cranky with someone on the phone, and will eat my dinner peacefully, and sleep early, putting the day’s incidents to rest.
Thank god, I stepped into class, inspite of everything.
Somehow, the Sivananda class took care of me. It put balm on my terribly wounded soul and heated up my cold extremities with a warm soup of breathing, exercise and relaxation, through the soothing, gentle presence of Harish and his firm, yet calm voice.
The other participants, some wounded like me, some fresh from other battles of the day, helped me too – the witness in me wondered about them, and saw them in practice, and felt glad that they were there, to provide me their support, albeit unknowingly. They were the cushion for the painful, bony edges of my distraught mind to play the yoga game.
I think about it – how yoga makes me, and keeps me warm in winter, and cool and composed in the summer. I slept well last night, in spite of everything that transpired in the day and later in the evening, and woke up this morning, inspired to write this blog.
Yoga settles me down, and keeps the turbulent world out. It irons out the sharp edges, and smoothes me out. It takes the wildness out of me, and turns me from the Hulk to a normal, decent Human. From the scattered me, among the many scattered pieces, I rediscover me, I rediscover peace.
I feel thankful for all the people before me, all the great rishis and gurus, Swami Vishnudevananda, and my wonderful teachers, and the scriptures, which has kept this tradition of yoga alive, to help me at all times, especially when I need it the most.
Come. Let us do the Sivananda practice again today. Let us put ourselves back together again. Let us once again find laughter and joy and peace.
As Swamiji said, yoga shows the way!