Summer Sadhana 2012, the fourth annual 10 days of early morning practice, has been a bumpy ride.
Every day presented a new obstacle: one student had a family medical emergency; another’s dental surgery date moved ahead from July to two days before we started. There was a temporary crown that came out; a fall on a sidewalk; headaches and nausea.
And then there was the common cold. It rippled through our ranks: one, then two, then three, then me.
No longer can I say that can’t remember the last time I had a cold. And I’ll be able to date this one if I ever need to. It’s the cold I had while getting up at 5 a.m. to teach every day for 10 days.
The strangest thing about it is that getting up hasn’t been hard for me. I’ve loved my morning drive to the studio, being there by 6 a.m., pulling up the blind, opening the windows, lighting some incense, doing small housekeeping tasks and then encountering the deep quiet of sitting very early in the morning.
I don’t feel sick while I teach. It’s a little piece of yoga magic – without even trying, I tap into a universal reserve of energy that keeps me going until about an hour after the class ends.
Teaching with a cold has even been instructive. Now that I don’t touch anyone with my hands, ever, I’m more precise with my words and somehow keener with my eyes.
I’d like to keep that, even when I’m no longer a mobile home for the Rhinovirus.
In general, I’ve been happy with the practice. Despite our various states of illness, standing poses are stronger, headstands are more confident, and shoulder stand setups go together in record time.
The aim of this sadhana is to send its participants off into the summer, not only inspired to keep on practicing, but equipped with everything they need to modify and adapt in the face of less than perfect circumstances.
Our bodies are different every day – sometimes drastically, sometimes almost imperceptibly. So our practice has to be different too.
There’s no point in doing a vigorous practice in the midst of a full-blown cold. Prolonged Savasana (relaxation pose) in bed is the best thing we can do.
But if we’re going to cultivate the “long, uninterrupted, alert practice” that the Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali prescribes for achieving a state of yogic union, then we need strategies for the days when we’re not at our best and ways to practice that allow us to turn inward and do good work while honoring our body’s limitations.
As it turns out, the sniffley sadhana of 2012 has been a crash course in doing just that.
If you’d like a pdf of the practice we worked with, let me know in the comments and I’ll email you a copy.
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