I often get asked: ‘don’t you get bored of always practicing the same yoga posture sequence?’ I have never even considered getting bored. Boredom does not enter into the realm of possibilities with my practice even though the sequence I do most mornings has indeed been the same for quite some time. The thing is, though, it never feels the same because one of the interesting characteristics of Ashtanga Yoga is that repeating the same sequence shows, with incredible clarity, that what changes is the practitioner. Every day feels different because I am different.
When I was looking for a topic to explore this month, I went back through my previous archive of newsletters and I was surprised I had never written about change. For the past 18 months, we sure have become intimate with it, but change was here before. It is always here. Change, together with death, are the only certainties in life. Change is not good or bad, it is just a fact and, whether faster or slower to manifest, it is constantly happening.
Yoga takes place at the points of juncture. This is best represented in the Bhagavad Gita, when Arjuna doubts his ability to fight the battle, falls at the feet of his charioteer Krishna and asks him ‘what do I do?’. Only then, in the cracks created by the instability of change, can Krishna show him what yoga really is. This is why it is also very common to practice at a time called sandhi, or transitional: between dark and light, morning and afternoon, doing special actions at equinox and solstice.
On the equinox we just passed this week, it was very windy in Glasgow and a friend told me that there is such a thing as the equinox winds, perhaps winds of change. Resilience, which is one of those words that had been endlessly repeated during the pandemic is simply the ability to adapt to change. Reeds are resilient. They might not be strong as some trees but when strong winds come, they are able to bend and adapt, recovering their position when they pass.
I always think of reeds at moments of change.