I wore a pedometer to this morning’s Mysore-style full primary practice to see how far the practice takes me within the confines of my 26-by-71-inch Manduka mat.
Within the hour and a half practice, my mind drifted to the scratchy facial hair that I did not want to shave this morning, the jittery hands from the cup of coffee before practice, how I wanted more lift in the transition between sides of Mari C, what I was going to eat for breakfast, what to do with the moon day on Sunday, and how consumed we all are in this room with our practice.
Even after 33 jump throughs, 47 chatvari positions and enough sweat to justify an extra coconut after practice (only Imran wasn’t standing outside the studio and Chicago does not have coconut trees like Mysore), the pedometer calculated that I took zero steps. None. I did not go anywhere.
My first reaction was, “Seriously?!?”
I have been practicing Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga for a short five years and I have not gone anywhere by a mechanically calculated measurable distance.
I originally stopped running marathon distances when I discovered Ashtanga yoga because I had nothing left to run toward or run from, because everything I needed was inside of me and this practice.
I would like to think that because of the practice, I am a better person for “facing my issues.” However, in truth, I still run from certain issues (or asanas) and hurry to others—only these issues are now magnified on the yoga mat.
The practice of yoga has shown me that I have nowhere else to go and the rest of my life to practice getting there.
I know that the still point of a wheel is the axle, the center and the spokes and tire run around it in circles.
I know that practicing moves towards this stillness, but that stupid ego would like some validation for how many times it runs around the still point. I am not above this ego, but I am not my ego. No matter how many steps I take, it comes with me, and it shows up in practice when I am not taking any steps at all.
It should not matter that the asana practice does not add into the 10,000 steps that scientists calculate we should take in a day. Still, having pushed through the limiting voices in my head that came up in practice, questioning where I was going to go when my apartment lease was up, what is for breakfast and would four rounds of navasana (boat pose) be enough today, I felt like I had run a marathon of thoughts around the stillness.
Laying on the mat defeated in sukhasana (easy pose) with my hands spilling over the edges, my head raced over the borders I have crossed this year and the airline miles accumulated in this pursuit of knowledge.
I would like to think that in this pursuit I did not miss the essential teachings of yoga.
I would like to think that deeply ingrained within me somewhere is the knowledge that yoga is not limited to being practiced in a special space but that it is practiced in the world with intent and purpose.
Yoga is practiced within the 10,000 steps I take moving throughout my day and it is limiting to think it is only done on the mat.
Each day, with these thoughts and this ego, working towards a still point, the place where the asana practice is taking me, will be my meter and the distance I have left to get there, because the point of stillness is within me at all times.Tags: asana, ashtanga, mysore, pedometer, philosophy, practice, psychology, stillness, yoga