Following V’s comment on whether I am a devote Ashtangi, I got to thinking about devotion, and whether I feel comfortable describing myself as a devout Ashtangi?

devout (comparative devouter or more devout, superlative devoutest or most devout)
1. Devoted to religion or to religious feelings and duties; absorbed in religious exercises; given to devotion; pious; reverent; religious.
2. (archaic) Expressing devotion or piety; as, eyes devout; sighs devout; a devout posture.
3. Warmly devoted; hearty; sincere; earnest; as, devout wishes for one’s welfare.

I suppose I am quite devoted to my asana practice, but that’s not all it’s about, is it? What makes someone an Ashtangi. Well we practice our specific asana, and observe the way that these are taught and how we should perform them. But there is more to it than that, and I suppose I fall down at some of these.

I started thinking about the 8 limbs, taking the Yamas and the Niyamas as a starting point, and see that I still have some work to do:

Yamas
AHIMSA (Non-violence). I try to observe this yama, I am a vegetarian!
SATYA (Truthfulness). Most of the time, I certainly don’t lie about anything that is important and would hurt somebody
ASTEYA (Non-stealing). No I don’t steal!
BRAHMACHARYA (Chastity). Well, yes, but not out of choice….;)
APARIGRAHA (Non-receiving). Total failure here, I have a very unhealthy attachment to ‘things’. I am a bit of a brand slave, bet that is good in my job, so it doesn’t count, right?

Niyamas
SAUCHA (PURITY). Yes please!
SANTOSA (CONTENTMENT). Mostly, but that covetousness and attachments to things must get in the way here, if I don’t have my things, then I am not content?
TAPAS (AUSTERITY). Well, if this goes by the definition of developing tranquillity, control and balance, I suppose I am striving towards it.
SVADHYAYA (STUDY). Well, I like to study, and faith is interesting, but I don’t make a huge amount of time for the study of faith. Maybe if I didn’t have my job to worry about?
ISHVARA PRANIDHANA (WORSHIP OF GOD). I’m not really observing this. I actively don’t do religion, or worship a god. I am of the opinion that if we follow the right path, goodness will, or at least should, prevail.

Asana
My asana practice seems to be coming along ok, but I am a creature of habit and like routine. I find returning to my mat on a daily basis is therapeutic, relaxing, a trip of self discovery, so many things really.

The rest of the eight limbs I feel are rather more out of reach, Pranayama out of the context of ujjai I don’t practice, pratyahara I suppose I feel is something that might be obtained transiently during practice, or maybe it’s just when I fall asleep during asana? Dharana and Dhyana, I can’t really do; I find concentration difficult and I haven’t yet found time in my life for meditation, maybe later? As for samhadi, we aren’t supposed to have got there yet, have we?

As for asana today, it was pretty rubbish. I was out quite late dancing last night and despite leaving at 11pm and getting home at 12 I couldn’t wind down very quickly and felt as though I lay awake for hours. I was then awake before my alarm, so at least I didn’t have to drag myself out of bed to practice. When I arrived and saw V finishing, I was quite tempted to change out of my kit and go for coffee instead! The shala was hot and sweaty but I still didn’t feel very flexible. My spine wasn’t responsive at all, and although L did a really nice dropback assist, I didn’t really feel comfortable today.

Despite having tried to exercise a degree of restraint of my covetousness this month, and having been reasonably successful for the last couple of weeks, my resolve failed yesterday and I ended up buying a pair of cowboy boots from R Soles (say it, it’s funny 😉 ). I have convinced myself that cowboy boots will be a wardrobe must have this season, so I bought a good pair, which will probably last forever. They aren’t the kind of thing I usually wear, so hopefully my fashion prediction will be correct.

I also bought a new top for dancing (unfortunately, it seems that the more cleavage you have on show, the more dances you get. And although I think this is a terrible state of affairs, yes really, I do like to get asked to dance, so bought a cute polka dot top. Oh, and a dress online… and then a random cardigan too. See, how I fail on the aparigraha front???

Right, I’m off dancing again tonight, so must go!

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