Numb is the best word I can find to describe myself after ten hours of learning, doing, and literally breathing yoga, every day for the past month. As I finish my yoga teacher training on the precious island of Bali.
The official 200-hour training has just concluded and while I am “paper certified” to teach, I understand it is still a long stumbling journey ahead.
From the small surface area of the yoga mat to the swallowing waves of the ocean, one’s ego is put into check without difficulty. We fall from imbalance, trip over our own two feet, get pushed down – dragged. But each and every time we get up again and it seemingly gets easier as we become stronger and more resilient.
I only started yoga because of its healing benefits on the body – merely physical I should add. I am, or was, a full-time runner that ran everyday for about 10 kilometers before work. Such strenuous activity resulted in lower back and knee injuries and thus I sought a cure like many do, to yoga.
Running for me was merely physical. My ego admired the physique of a runner, the mind craved for nothingness, and the body loved the adrenaline rush during and post-workout. But something must be said about high-adrenaline sports such as running, biking, or snowboarding. It is that exactly – high-adrenaline – we have turned into chemical-loving junkies.
In a world where time equals pay and money equates to “success”, we strive for peak productivity at all times. No e-mail goes unturned, no day without back-to-back meetings goes by, and certainly no Facebook update goes un”liked”. But the (not-so) funny thing is that when one’s barometer for success is denominated in currency, you constantly will raise the bar higher and higher; a rat race that ends only when one realizes that money is an infinite thing and time, a finite one.
We seek yoga for the cure to knee and lower pack pains but how did we get such injuries in the first place? Most back injuries are closely linked to stress and inactivity, both contributing to tight muscles and chronic pain. A lot of knee injuries, including mine, stemmed from carelessness and overwork.
We toxify our body with alcohol and drugs but for what, stronger emotions – to feel more alive?
We anticipate the 14 of the 365 days in the year we get to take a vacation but since when did we get so attached and passive to our jobs that “taking a break” is now considered a luxury? No wonder we are so exhausted and look like walking zombies. We are no longer human beings but rather human doings.
Santosa, one of the niyamas in the eight limbs of hatha yoga is about Contentment. For me, contentment is directly linked to “success” and over time I have realized that such a metaphysical term cannot be given definition by things like money, occupation, or outer appearances – all external factors that are unfortunately easier said than done to overcome internally.
In such a world where we are just surviving, is it impossible to strive for a mind of stillness and simplicity? Maybe we all just need to be a little less ambitious?
…Or maybe I’ve just turned into a nature-slow meal-real book-real letter-pencil and paper-loving 23 year-old that is turning 80 next month. Or perhaps I have “too much time on my hands” at the moment that allows me to be so judgmental and I need to go back to being a human doing versus being? Doubtful but certainly debatable…