Thursday, August 14, 2008


It's a tightrope act sometimes, isn't it? You want to practice every day, as teachers and texts prescribe, and because, y'know, it's what feels good. So you shuffle and organize your life in whatever ways are appropriate to make this happen — negotiating with employers, clients, spouses and children or child-care to carve out the requisite time.

The other side of the tightrope, though, is that once the time has been marked out, the space for the practice demarcated, and the pattern of behaviour established — get up, wash face, pranayama for 45 minutes, sit for 20, chug espresso, drive to yoga studio, unroll mat — the entire thing becomes what you've worked so hard to build, that is to say, it becomes routine, with all the negative connotations that word implies, such as rote, habitual and unconscious.

It never gets easier, either. My wife's warm body in the pre-dawn hour has not gotten less warm, less comforting, less inviting (traits for which I continue to blame her, of course), and the thought of turning off the alarm has not become less tempting. This practice, any practice, continues to refuse to do itself — I still have to initiate it, tend to it like a banked fire, expend however skillfully the energy required to complete it.

My wife and I both continue to practice, though, supporting each other as best we can, reaching to the texts, ancient and new, for impetus and inspiration, and modeling the long-time practitioner with whom we studied for those many years and who we call our teacher. It's like sailing a ship, a lifelong journey during which we make minute and constant adjustments of our course in the face of unexpected gale winds, long periods of daily routine, and patches of becalmed sea.