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The Lifestyle of Ashtanga Yoga and Relationships

To get up regularly, early in the morning, demands discipline. But more than this it demands a whole lifestyle. Because, in order that morning Practise is not pure pain, certain changes to regular living have to be put in place. More care has to be taken over eating, as this is the ‘fuel’ for practise, as well as ensuring an early bedtime for an early start.

This should be easy, but it really isn’t, for what this yoga Practise demands is a change of lifestyle, which is basically to talk of a steady routine. This is always inconvenient, for when it’s not about adding another thing in, instead, resisting the allure of possibilities available in modern living; a routine qualified by cutting things out is really hard.

If this weren’t enough, it’s so much more challenging to adapt to this new aim in living with a partner, friends and family who all relate to you in the old way. That is, through particular shared behaviours which defined the relationship; of which alcohol always comes up pretty quickly here. It’s an easy, and, hence, common way of relating, but not much of a friend for early morning yoga – something which most of us already know from experience.

In which case, sometimes, tough choices have to be made. If friendships cannot adapt, they may have to be sacrificed for this greater intention towards Yoga. Therefore, it’s also worth checking in that this is what we really want. Sometimes, however, communication can solve the mistrust. It can be the case that your new sense of purpose is strange and even enviable to others, so clarifying what it is and why you do it can help to make it seem a little more humane and less ‘cultish’. The question is, that they don’t know how far you’re going to go with the changes, so from the point of view of a mind always craving the stability of the known, this is deeply challenging.

Then, there is the added complication, that yoga, itself, brings ones own issues to the surface. The remedy, once more is communication and ones own awareness that this tendency that yoga can make one a ‘bit weird’ for a while does happen. If the other person hasn’t experienced this aspect of yoga, this is also confusing, so a little explanation may be useful, as well as hopefully conveying the visible benefits of what the Practise has and does do for you. This is essential in helping them to understand this bizarre process you’re volunteering to put yourself through, and why it doesn’t always make logical sense.

Changes are never comfortable, least of all for the party not changing. It’s as well to bear this in mind, and whilst maintaining commitment to your Practise, allowing that yoga is also defined by ‘ahimsa’. A rigid and unbending attitude towards daily practice, at any cost, is against the direction yoga is aiming at.

Yoga is not just a morning stretch, but a way of life and an intention towards living. For this reason, even if physical Practise needs to be sacrificed on some occasions, there is still the rest of the day open for the practice of yoga. For Yoga means ‘balance’, or harmony. This is much wider reaching than the physical alone; although this can help with the rest of the days’ orientation, it is by no means the only source of practice available.

All this said, there is no denying that having a partner and friends who don’t practise yoga – and this means, subscribing to a daily Practise, not just classes, which doesn’t demand a lifestyle change – can be equally as hard as the Practise itself. This has to be acknowledged in order that a sense of mutual understanding can be attempted. Practise should not make us lonelier and more isolated.

Because, finally, yoga is about people and relationships. Firstly, this relation is with oneself, then, it is tested and reflected on the outside with how you are with others. For this reason, the trials of a yoga-lifestyle aren’t something to resent, but to embrace as half of the very practice of yoga. Maybe, the practical application of the theory of asana which we love to do. It isn’t supposed to be easy, and then name of the game is adaptation and flexibility, in order to realize Yoga in the widest context possible.

For, ‘ahimsa’ is not only non-harm, but a gentleness and flow to living. The aim should then be to use practice in effort towards this, not, as is so tempting to do, as an ends in itself. It is ‘the finger pointing at the moon’, not the actual moon. Regarding this general tendency towards obsession with the technique, it’s actively useful to have non-practicing people around you. Its all to tempting to get sucked into the vortex of new abilities, health and energy, whereby a sense of superiority is unbeknowningly developed, which is certainly to miss the point in yoga, that life is about interrelation rather than separation. Hopefully, there are voices reminding you not to let yoga take you up your own asana..


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