With teaching and up-coming deadlines, my week felt extra busy. Why was I always so crunched for time? Oh, it's the two-three hours each day required to get myself to the yoga studio, change, practice, drive home and shower. The addition of this daily commitment sent me careening between the polarities of stress and stillness. Sitting in rush hour traffic, cursing the car trying to make a left turn ahead of me, I had plenty of time to contemplate the cosmic irony of getting stressed out on the way to yoga class - and the phenomenon of getting more stressed by doing more yoga. By adding an extra commitment to my day, yoga was creating more, not less, stress.
I don't think it's supposed to work this way. I suppose there's a reason why so many enlightened yogis in India were renunciates who had given up their homes, occupations and families to wander and meditate. Unperturbed by the many distractions of daily life, they had all the time in the world to practice postures, breathing and meditation, until - POOF - they became enlightened.
I've always appreciated the Tibetan Buddhist path that claims the way to enlightenment is not to escape from the world, but to find peace and enlightenment within it, and within the practice of daily activities. This path seems so much more practical to me: not everyone wishes to renounce the usual aspects of their lives, but everyone can seek enlightenment within their lives. I'm hoping that will be my experience of the 40 Day Yoga Challenge - a retreat from daily life within daily life. I started this challenge with the hope that the additional structure of going to yoga class every day would require me to become more structured and disciplined in my daily life. (God knows I need it when my task for an entire day is "write article." That clearly needs to broken down into more manageable and accountable steps.)
The retreat from daily life within daily life is working, but I'm not sure that I'm a calmer, more compassionate person outside of yoga class... when I'm stressing about getting to the next yoga class. Sometimes, I feel like a recovering addict, constantly looking for my next AA meeting, and scheduling my days around when I can get to a meeting. "No dear, I can't meet the plumber then, I'll be at yoga class... Can we push back the dinner? I have to go to yoga class first."
Today, I decided to take a break, using my one 'day of rest from asana' per week to go to the climbing gym inside of yoga class. I was pleasantly surprised by the strengthening and conditioning effects this first week of regular practice has had. Perhaps next week will bring the mental calmness I was expecting...