Normally, I’d expect any humbling lesson from Ashtanga to come courtesy of Shiva.
Today’s, though, is actually all about Saraswati.
I was standing in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana — my stickiness for sure keeping me from folding forward — and looking at our household altar (pictured below) and my eyes wandered toward the statue at left of Saraswati.
Yes, yes, bad man. Forgetting my dristi. I know. That’s the least of my worries.
For whatever reason — the stillness, the flickering flames, the face on the statue — I was struck in that moment by just how completely wrapped up I am, still am, in the yoga’s most superficial benefits. You know the ones.
A better body. Stronger limbs. Thinner waist. Maybe the ability to cheat a little on the raw, no-wheat diet.
That’s what gets me up before 5:30 a.m. every morning. I could fool myself — and more importantly, you! — and say otherwise. I could talk about how I’m working on these deep levels, exploring the silence of a moving meditation, investigating the daily changes to body and mind. But it would be a lie.
Probably the closest to that — to those actually meaningful reasons — is that I do get on the mat, in part, because of the calming effect of the practice. I’m sure it’s helped with blood pressure and all those types of things. But that just seems like a side benefit of all the asanas. It’s not why I get up and on the mat.
Thinking back on this moment, it’s one of those that seem to stretch out in time; it’s just a second, maybe, but you can remember A, B, C and D all happening clearly.
My eyes fell on Saraswati.
I thought about how I wasn’t folded forward, how far away some basic poses remain.
I knew if I was practicing Ashtanga for the right reasons (as flawed and filled with problems that phrase is) then I wouldn’t worry about how open my hamstrings are or how tight my shoulders remain. I’d be breathing, focused, still. I’d see something more in the Saraswati statue.
I thought about what the “all” that should be coming might be and how I may be as far away from “it” as ever.
And then I finished up my breaths and moved on to Utkatasana. Not much else to do, right?
Posted by Steve