I ended up practicing on top of a picnic table.
I wanted to practice outside in the foothills of the Rockies but instead ended up with a soaked slippery Manduka Mat on a dusty cement pad under the only shelter I could find.
One of the basic tenants of yoga philosophy is that our perceptions create our reality. Our misconceptions about something being likable or unlikable, appealing or unappealing, agreeable or disagreeable are what yoga calls ‘mental attachments.’
The rainstorm was the perfect example. I really, really wanted to practice the Ashtanga Primary Series outside that ill-fated day. I’d taken two days off from practicing due to strenuous hiking/camping/driving days. I remember trying to fall asleep the previous night feeling so eager to practice poses that would unwind my stiff body; it felt a little bit like Christmas Eve!
But this rain. Afternoon rains are the norm during July in Colorado, not the exception, so I should have taken the encroaching clouds seriously. I didn’t. I laid out my well-worn yoga mat in a patch of grass and set up shop with water, pen, pencil and journal. When the first few raindrops hit, it felt luxurious. (I hadn’t showered in three days, after all.) But I was worried about my journal getting wet so I moved under a tiny shelter by a trail head. I resumed practicing, not realizing that the wind would blow buckets of rain horizontally, barraging my dry cubby hole until I was completely soaked. I picked up my (now covered in bird poop) Manduka and sprinted back to my Subaru. I waited it out for about 5 minutes and read my Yoga Sutras while I waited. From the Yoga Sutras:
“Mistaken perceptions are wrong impressions that are mired in false appearances.” I.8
And “the single most important thing: things are empty of being what they are by themselves.” I. 42
Is as if these two little threads of wisdom were magic.
My perception of the rain was my responsibility. The rain was a welcome respite from the summer heat and a blessing to the vegetation in Lory State Park. But in and of itself, it was just rain.
Miraculously, I wasn’t frustrated. I wasn’t disappointed, angry or even irritated (again, a miracle). I was still stoked to practice and determined to find a place where I could do so.
I elected to see the rain from a place of clear understanding and not emotional output, and I climbed on top of that picnic table to practice. Occasionally I got a few weird looks from other Park goers, but I didn’t care. It was magical. This ancient wisdom helped me take responsibility for my understanding and appreciate the rain for being rain, not as something causing me frustration. These threads of wisdom from the seminal yoga text are what it’s all about.
Over the course of the next few months on this blog, I will be examining Sanskrit terms which are important concepts from the Yoga Sutras. We won’t be learning them the traditional way of call-and-repeat and questioning discourse, but I hope to bring you some insight into the text that started it all. We’ve already talked about our citta (as our heart-mind-connection) in this post and we’ve already learned about purusha (as our Inner Light) in this post. You’ll want to go back and review these posts if you have a free minute. so we can keep moving deeper into the knowledge of the Yoga Sutras.
If you don’t already have your own copy, I suggest The Essential Yoga Sutra by Geshe Michael Roach.
Feel free to send me questions as we go along! Looking forward to learning with you,