Summer is often a slower time for me; the temperature rises, my pace slows, and I dawdle in my garden enjoying the bounty of flowers, and the growth and ripening of my fruits and vegetables to share with family and friends. I revel in the opportunity to take my practice outdoors; playing with my yoga as I hike and swim, meditating and resting in the shower of moon.
This summer was not as slow as many travels to visit family and friends called me to wander and explore. What an opportunity! What a challenge! How do I keep my practice consistent? How do I bathe in the moon if there is no moon? When do I get to meditate amongst time changes, children and exhaustion?
I pack a very thin mat, a strap and Light on the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali by B.K.S. Iyengar. My yoga practice is more than just a stretch and strength class. It’s a familiar and comforting call for quieting and self-regulating my mind and body. That “ah” feeling I experience in savasana isn’t just physical it’s the connection with my inner body, my true self. This is the yoga I practice consistently.
The opportunity to practice is ever present especially when I travel – delays, family, other people, and tiredness. How I identify and control my internal environment (mind and spirit) changes my experience of my external environment.
B.K.S. Iyengar states that “Yoga is a rule book for playing the game of life” but I think of yoga as life’s toolbox full of essentials to guide and support me. Like most toolboxes my favorite tools are on top. These tools I am most comfortable using and so become well practiced at them. Eventually though, I become curious or encounter a challenge and I begin to look deeper into my toolbox. I discover new things about my favorite tools, and learn to use my dusty, undiscovered tools. A yogi’s favorite tools are often asana and breath, these are the introductory tools that lead to further inquiry and discovery.
As I practice my asanas I reconnect to my body and breath, the tools to open my heart and mind to welcome the world. I roll over hotel towels and pillows, stretch on benches and trees playing with props in nature and generally having fun!
But the physical practice is one tool in my yoga toolbox, and if I am to experience more than the physical benefits of yoga, if I am to uncover my light and mold my life into one of joy, humility and kindness I’m gonna need more than one tool. If I can begin to understand my physical body through asanas, and begin to understand my mental body through breath then perhaps I can use the tools of yamas (moral commandments) and niyamas (ethical disciplines) to begin to understand why I react in certain ways, make the same mistakes, and am triggered by the same challenges. Perhaps I can use the yamas and niymas as guiding principles for my internal and external life.
Traveling is a perfect opportunity to practice the yamas and niyamas because travel can be messy and hard. The yamas and niymas are tools to help me further my understanding of who I am so I can better understand and happily live in and contribute to my world. I am encouraged to practice my asanas to keep my body healthy, to practice contentment to keep my mind calm, to practice being kind and helpful while also being honest and truthful. I am curious and travel to witness the joy and light in myself and others. I hope to see with
clear eyes, from a contented, and unselfish center. I fail often. I keep practicing. I am a student of yoga.