Got yoga?


Last night I went to my first class of Ashtanga yoga, which consists of 6 series of poses that you memorize and practice in a breath-guided flow, at your own pace. Apparently most people practice just the primary series. Second and third are advanced and mostly for instructors…and the other three? Well, a wise man once said that after you have completed the third series, if you have any Ego left you can pursue the rest. Lesson: Ashtanga is an Ego killer, which officially makes it my new favorite thing. OK, great, good for you Elvi, but what does this have to do with driving, you might ask. Well, it turns out everything has to do with everything. And just as driving is much like life, Ashtanga yoga is also a lot like driving…and life.
For one, they are both new and scary to me. Except that the mat is much kinder than the road. But you are on your own. You can’t really have a teacher. You have an instructor. Just like in driving school. To guide you. But ultimately you have to teach yourself. Whether he is guiding you through Parivrta Parsvakonasana – cross bend over knee (which by the way hurts like hell), or guiding you through rush hour on Independence boulevard (which can be similarly hellacious), you are the one telling your body and mind to do what needs to be done. In the moment. You trust your instructor but ultimately you have to trust yourself. Secondly, Ashtanga is messy, you don’t really know what you’re doing. You have to rely on your memory and the present moment at the same time. You make mistakes and you laugh it off. You mess up the sequence but eventually you find that the world is still in one piece. And so are you.
You look over to your neighbor and realize they are going much faster but you learn that you don’t have to.
Thirdly, you need to practice. Practice. Practice. And eventually, you don’t really have to think about it, you just do it. And that’s when the practice becomes meditation. And that is ultimately what I want to accomplish in both driving and yoga. You know, get in the zone. Be in the zone. Which is very different from zoning out. Because, meditation is a lot more like falling awake.
You should have seen me. Me trying to do the half lotus forward fold was as funny as me getting on the oncoming turning lane, (wrong side honey!). Wish me luck.
In Ashtanga you finish your series with a chant. But I think it is perfect to start any driving excursions. It translates:

May prosperity be glorified –
may rulers, (administrators) rule the world with law and justice
may divinity and erudition be protected
May all beings be happy and prosperous.

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