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OOOOOooooppss, I forgot: Why I practice yoga vol 637

Yesterday, I never actually got around to practicing yoga. By that, I mean I didn’t do postural practice, breathing practice, meditation practice, no saucha practice, no self-reflection, or surrendering to God. There was no yoga yesterday. I forgot to do my practice. Okay, you’re right, that’s a total lie. I didn’t forget, I neglected and there is a difference between the two.

How did that happen? Well, first off, I woke up late. I was supposed to meet my daughter to go to market. I had enough time to brush my teeth and throw some clothes on and get into the car. I left in such a hurry that I forgot my morning medications. That is just plain ridiculous but there’s a classic case of a mind in a state of total disarray – unfocused and forgetful.

And when I got home, I did a bit of this and a bit of that. I spent a good chuck of the afternoon reading (trying to read) an English translation of an essay that was published in 1912 about the structure and function of religion. It was 30 pages of hard slogging and I was finding it difficult to concentrate on the topic at hand. Again, the mind wandering, not wanting to work and reading of this nature can only be described as work. For those of you wishing what you might want to strike off your reading bucket list, the work in question was Emile Durkheim’s “The Elementary Forms of Religious Life”. I’m trying to finish up my long-abandoned Sociology degree before my daughter starts her undergrad degree…well, maybe before she finishes said degree.

We went for a walk, admired the fall crop of mushrooms and came home to make supper. I was semi-confused in the kitchen and managed to forget part of what I had intended to cook. Again, the flitting monkey mind, unable to concentrate on any one task, just here there and everywhere, instead of doing what needs to be done. I’m surprised I didn’t chop off small body bits because concentration is a particularly useful attribute when wielding a razor sharp 10 inch chunk of finely honed German steel, but no neglectful yoginis were damaged in the production of last night’s dinner.

I suppose I could have practiced in the evening but I was feeling slothful and I didn’t bother. I went to bed in decent time, slept moderately well and woke up this morning with the monkey mind in high-rev.

Today’s practice (technically yesterday’s) was a simple one written by Claude Maréchal, my teacher’s teacher. The principle posture was that weird supine twist I’ve only seen in Viniyoga practices where one lays down, walks the heels a few centimetres to one side and then breathes that position. The lead up was simple: prayer, child, cat combinations. There was nothing physically challenging in this practice. It was literally a practice one could safely teach to a drop-in beginner level class where no one knows the postures nor how to modify them.

Could I concentrate? OH HELL NO. My mind was on my class readings, my teacher (have to call her today), what’s for dinner, what’s for breakfast, I need to remember to transfer money between accounts…ohhhhh, I need to sweep under the bed…

I’ve been trying to develop the use of ratio breath in my postural practices – I’m mostly working at a simple 6-3-6-3 ratio. Some days, when my energy is down, I have to cut it back to 4-2-4-2. Do you think I could concentrate well enough this morning to count to 6? That would be a big, fat negative. I lost my mind more times in today’s practice that I could shake a stick at. Let’s put it this way, I think I did most of the postures for 6 (or so) breaths.

Of course, what has put this monkey mindedness in sharp relief is that I’ve been on a regular daily practice for the last three weeks. I’m practicing morning and night (moon salutations before tucking in). My body and my ever-blessed mind have got used to having this morning restructuring of my life energy. After all, a postural practice is about reorganizing prana in the body, opening up the places where it’s stuck and smoothing out the places where it’s in turmoil. And without it, I’m literally driving myself nuts, at a time in my life when I need all the cognitive capacity I can muster.

Okay, new breath, new moment – but here it is… I practice yoga because when I don’t, I make myself crazy.

Thanks for reading and Namaste,



About Kate MacKay

I'm a certified Viniyoga teacher, in Fredericton, NB. I was a 9-1-1 operator and emergency services dispatcher for 22 years. Surprisingly, the two worked well together, or as I liked to put it, from the sublime to the ridiculous -- all in a day's work. I'm currently off work as a result of a stress-induced cardiac condition that's thrown a few crimps in my lifestyle. I'm not actively teaching yoga in the classroom right now and probably won't for several more months. That said, this blog is one of the forms of practice I can do and I thank you for joining me in this exploration of all things yoga.

One response »

  1. Kate, I swear to God that post had me laughing the entire time I was reading it, “saying OH YEAH! – feeling like I was reading a day out of my own life! Only you could have said it so well, and with so much humour and honesty. Loved it!
    ‘Abhyasa-vairagya” proves over and over again to be the best prescription for a wild “monkey mind”. Sharp objects become less dangerous, other people gradually get nicer, things get crossed off “to do” lists, smiling becomes a habit, colours are more vivid and life in general becomes mysteriously more pleasant. Things still go wrong, but they seem much less of a big, hairy deal. Enlightenment or no enlightenment, those are pretty good improvements on their own merit if you ask me.

    I’m away visiting right now, and my practice is suffering – no mat, no space, no time alone – cigarette smoke around every corner – therefore, I AM EXPERIENCING DUKHA! However, comma, I’m making the most of any quiet “moments” that come along by doing ratio breathing to slow things down and detach just a little – just enough to keep my scattered mind from imploding on itself.

    Kudos to you for your sense of humour and openness about your own practice – it helps the rest of us immensely, knowing that we aren’t the only ones who struggle to stay on our path, and that the thing that counts is getting back on every time. Thanks, Kate.


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