For years my Monday mornings were kicked off by teaching two yoga classes at 8:30 and 10am. I'm not much of a morning person. However, these Monday morning students managed to get me talking earlier than I'd normally prefer. I looked forward to seeing them walk in with sleepy eyes, many of them also not morning people, and hearing about their weekends and fielding questions about what strange drink or breakfast I was hurrying to consume before class started.
In class they were so focused and intent on starting their week off on the best foot. I was lucky that a little of that energy rubbed off on me and always inspired my week to start in a similar fashion.
In an effort to keep that Monday magic around, here are some things that are inspiring me this week.
It usually takes thirty seconds in the pose for people to start to fidget. Sooner if it's toe squat, sitting on lifted heels to open the neglected soles of the feet. I watch it happen. Wind blows through the shala, leaves rustle along the sand-dusted cement floor, and students start to move. Some glance at me with pained faces; their eyes ask how much longer we're here. Nerves fire, sensation arises, the brain reacts, and the body wants an out. Our instinct is to fix the sensation, to lean forward or move our toes. We first attend to what appears to be happening on the outside. Yoga practice, be it asana, meditation, pranayama, or even mindfulness in daily tasks, instead asks us to change our perception of the sensation by changing our minds. Hardwired instincts must be viewed through a new lens.
There's a Sanskrit word for turning away from your senses: pratyahara. Ahara means food, signals from the outside world that feed our senses. It's easy to explain these senses as matter, something measurable that occupies space. The vibrations in the air that move your ear drums to produce sound or the molecules of heated food that pass through your nostrils to produce scent. All of this matter, however big or small, allows you to experience sensation.
"Hallo? Boat ride?"
Most mornings start like this. He is lanky and wears sunglasses and a floppy plaid hat. He approaches me with the same enthusiasm every time. I used to anticipate the day when he'd recognize me and stop asking. But after three weeks I instead meet him with a smile and nod my head no.
The sun is barely visible behind the palm trees. It backlights the beach in a way that makes everything appear as shadows, figures in the water and boats being pushed out to the shiny sea. I walk with my feet in the water. The air is just cool enough that the water feels warm. Each wave peels back and pulls at the grains of sand, revealing tiny crabs that quickly burrow and leave behind pin-sized holes until the next wave picks them up again.