This morning we awoke to a heavy downpour. The rain and wind pummeled through the palm trees from 2 in the morning ‘til 7. In this part of the world, rain is very unusual during this time of the year. And yet, rain it did and apparently more will be coming. It’s extra humid and heating up now, but this rain is a good thing for the people of Kovalam. Apparently the monsoon was very light last year and some local wells are already drying up.
We arrived at the shala this morning to find water in large puddles all over the floor and still leaking through the plastic tarp and palm leaf roof. It was a low energy day for everyone. Some students didn’t even show. David rode on his motorcycle in just his board shorts through the pouring rain and was dripping wet when he arrived.
Despite a fairly average night of sleep, I felt tired and like my limbs were made of lead this morning. My bones were aching, my joints were crickety, my latent knee trouble was poking up its head and my SI wanted me to pay attention to it as well.
Travel/practice/stress/a different diet/something has messed up my moon cycle and I’ve been dealing with that off and on for a week now. I took one rest day on Tuesday, but I’ve been trying to push through it and make the most of my time with DG, despite my normal adherence to the full-blown ladies holiday.
But today my body disagreed with my head, so I took it easy; I only practiced half primary series. Afterwards I folded up some of the soggy wool blankets to create a support for a few restorative poses such as supta baddha konasana and supta virasana. I lay back in these asanas and focused on just practicing deep and smooth ujjayi breath. This was the breath I was lacking in my vinyasas today. I somehow couldn’t find it in all the movement. My body was asking for more stillness, more sukham and sthiram today.
Yesterday DG was discussing how over time you learn to regulate your energy level through your yoga practice. He spoke about it in terms of the gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas. It made a lot of sense how he described balancing the energy in your body and of your efforts with a conscious understanding and application of the gunas.
For example, some days your practice can be too rajasic, too fiery and unstable, and frantic with shallow, uneven breathing. On those days, you need to temper it with the steady and solid weight of tamas guna. Other days you might feel really lethargic, heavy and slow, dragged down by tamas, in which case it might be necessary to infuse your practice with a little rajas fire by powering the movements with more rhythm, speed and intensity of breathing. But, he instructed, sometimes the predominance of tamas can be telling you something. It might mean you need to scale your practice down that day, slow it down and focus more on pranayama and restorative poses.
Basically, today I was having one of those practices. I couldn’t breathe deeply and flow with dynamism, I tried but everything in my body said “no”. I wanted to fire up and move, but it just wasn’t right. And that’s okay.
I can sometimes get into this mindset where I feel like if I’m not doing my full practice with all my second series and drop backs then I’m not practicing at all, or that it doesn’t “count”.
This is really silly, every practice “counts”. Not every day has to be a winner. Not every Mysore has to be a marvel of strength and power. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard and try to get the most out of every practice, it just means that sometimes the “most” doesn’t mean the “hardest”.
It’s good for me to realize this, given my perfectionist streak. Today might have been a more restful day with a shorter practice, but the great thing about Ashtanga is that I get the chance to try it all over again tomorrow. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Love and Blessings,