So what does running have to do with yoga?
The objective of yoga has been described trying to achieve the, 'restraint of the modifications of mindstuff' - or essentially clearing the mind of thought and reaching a meditative state. One thing when learning meditate is that this 'state' may only be fleeting on occasions.
To complete the summer of challenges (not a conscious goal) I entered the Maidenhead half marathon- again with the hope that friends may join me. Much like the swimming in June, I found myself on the starting line alone - again. More time for inward reflection.
Like the day of the swim it was another gloriously sunny day. Unlike the swim, my preparation had not quite gone to plan. A few longer runs were not going to provide the 'legs' needed to find the event comfortable. Despite the company of a new found running buddy that provided a welcome distraction for the first 6 miles, it was going to be hard day on the road. Rounding onto the second loop of the half marathon, I realised that it was going to take the most of my inward reflection to help get me through the rest of the distance. It wasn't pretty but brief moments of reflection (I cant quite say I reached the meditative state) helped me get through a few of the tougher miles.
Sometimes you have good days (the swim) and sometimes there are hard days (the run) - both are experiences none the less.
Who knows - perhaps I may find someone to share an event with at some point soon...
On a recent business trip to Budapest I was keen to experience yoga in a different country and potentially in a different language.
Within my time and travel constraints I found 2 options.
My first class was in a meeting room at work given by a colleague that had recently qualified in one of our meeting rooms. Students were scattered either side of the desks in the meeting rooms as we followed our instructors sequence. I still remember giving classes having recently qualified - with a certain degree of nerves and not daring to move too far away from the primary sequence. Despite offering to the follow the class in Hungarian, I think she took pity on me. With a mixed range of students, the 90 minute class was a wonderful way to get the travel and day's work out of the system.
Looking to challenge myself I found a second local class to gain a Hungarian yoga experience - a 90 minute Bikram class before work. The studio was located on the second floor of a small shopping arcade. Fortunately, it turned out that another student recognised the lost look on my face and directed in the right direction. Most of my practice has been Vinyasa flow so this would surely offer something new. And it certainly did as it was silent Brikham class with no instruction but 'prompts'(sounded like a 'pfssss') for the next position. It was no coincidence that I positioned myself in the middle of the room with many angles covered by the surrounding mirrors.
Despite not experiencing being taught yoga in a foreign language, the overriding feeling was that there is a connection between yoga practitioners - whatever the country, whatever the language (or not), or setting; it is our shared perspective that brings us together. We do spend a lot of time on the mat looking inwards, however, I do believe that this practise in itself does make us more open and worldly in our perspective.
Whenever possible, I will certainly aim to join classes wherever my travels take me. If you have the opportunity certainly continue your practice, or self study (Svadhyaya) as a student of yoga.
For the first time, YogaTonic UK entered a team into the Cookham Regatta Challenge Cup event in 2018. Shannon and I thought it would be a great opportunity to hang out with our yoga friends, off the mat and to enjoy doing some different activities.
As part of the Challenge we would have to compete in 5 events - twice - including dragon boating, Canadian canoeing and several non water events such as volleyball, tug of war and 'silly walking.' Most importantly, it was not about winning but having fun with friends and family... although it would appear we all have a competitive edge. Competition is not bad - though it is important the way in which you compete. In all of the events there was a friendly respect for our opposition, but that did not dim the desire to win.
In yoga philosophy, one of the 'niyamas' (self observations) is that of 'fiery cleansing' (Tapas). It would be fair to say that of all the events that gave the most cleansing / fiery sensation was the tug of war. Not something any of us do to often but certainly something that gets the adrenaline pumping and voice strained in an attempt to encourage the team to pull in the same direction at the same time.
Another yogic 'self observation' is 'contentment' (Santosa). Though we may have lost some races, we were content with how we worked as a team. Santosa means to be happy with what we have rather than what we don't have. We had a great team. We had a lot of laughs. We lost the last dragon boat race but we won overall with highest points. Even if we wouldn't have won, it was still a great day out.
That day, we were a team of active people who like to do yoga. It was fun doing events which were competitive. Sometimes people fall into feeling competitive when they go to a yoga class. It's human nature to observe another person but yoga itself should not be competitive. We are all built differently. There is no wrong way to do a pose in yoga (only if it's unsafe for your bod). In a yoga class, you can do some fiery cleansing (Tapas) through your breath and concentration. You can practice contentment (Santosa) by enjoying the class and know you are doing your best.
So back to the regatta. Great day. Big smiles. With many of the younger generation desperate to get involved I would like to think there will be YogaTonic teams of various generations well into the future... and who knows we maybe able to retain the title in 2019...
Tim & Shannon: Part time yoga teachers from Cookham, Berkshire. We thought it would be fun to share our learning experiences with like minded people.