Today was a departure from my usual routine, instead of beginning the day with an hour or so of yoga practice, I went to a B2B breakfast meeting at Hotel du Vin, Harrogate. The participants were a welcoming group of local business people. We were all required to say a few words about our work, by way of introduction.
After the meeting, I reflected on the various offerings – from the new people I’d just met and from a couple of old friends. I also pondered my own offering. I’d shared that it was a big deal to break from my daily commitment to yoga practice – ongoing for 44 years. I guess that’s a lot of commitment but I don’t usually think about my practice in those terms – it’s just something important I factor into the day like having a shower and brushing my teeth.
However I believe that committing to regular yoga practice has a big effect on people’s lives. I train yoga teachers and once the students become dedicated to their personal practice, they all remark on the changes that arise in other areas of life. Reliability, steadfastness, resilience and the ability to see things through, are qualities that can develop – along with the more usually stated benefits – the stronger, more flexible, body and the calm mind.
But I wonder if these qualities can be taken too far? If meeting ones commitments and responsibilities means ploughing on regardless of ill health, or serious events such as the death of a close family member, then these ‘admirable’ qualities have the potential to become unhealthy. If yoga practitioners and teachers don’t pay attention to their needs, they’re not walking the talk!
I recently did things differently – because of ill health and low energy, I reneged on my promise to attend a couple of events. Hallelujah – the world didn’t fall apart. Perhaps my presence at those events wasn’t so important anyway.
It seems to me that if we push ourselves at all costs to be reliable, committed people, the state of ‘yoga’ will become elusive – we need to take the middle road to arrive at good health, equanimity and peace. As Amit Ray says: ‘Equanimity is the hallmark of spirituality. It is neither chasing nor avoiding but just being in the middle.”