THE MINDFULNESS OF YOGA – LESSONS LEARNT THE HARD WAY.
3 things have happened to me recently which have momentarily knocked me off my centre. The distinct feeling of observing my life before and after and thinking how much life can quickly change in the blink of an eye. All of these events are connected to yoga in some way. The Mindfulness of Yoga one could say.
The Mindfulness of Yoga (1): The Cinema Ambulance Affair
There was the recent incident at the cinema, where I was taken out in an ambulance, thinking life was never going to be the same again. It also revealed I had a very low resting heart rate (due to yoga no doubt). At the time it scared the living daylights out of me. It also scared my poor partner too. Hospitals aren’t the nicest of places, although the University College London Hospital was of a very high standard I must admit.
As I was sitting in the back of the ambulance in my catastrophe state of thinking, all I could think was how proud I was to achieve what I had with my yoga practice; how life was so great before; and now a future not so certain. So I thought.
The Mindfulness of Yoga (2): The Central London Photoshoot
For those who follow me on Instagram, you will have observed I like to get out and about and do some shoots around London. From pretty parks, to instantly recognisable tourist attractions, to tall buildings, throwing in a little yoga into the mix has a been a fun way of producing high quality, interesting content and a chance to express what I love doing, in a very visual format.
What’s this got do with life and yoga and all that? Well, one of these recent shoots, I decided to put my new-found handstand skills in practice, right by Piccadilly Circus tube station entrance on Regent Street. Lo and behold I got up, and then I came out of it. But this time, as I was coming out my head touched the ground. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I felt fine and we carried on.
It wasn’t until Monday morning after a yoga practice that I started to feel a headache and pressure on the side of my head. It was growing. I panicked. I instantly went back to the moment on Saturday morning. Did I have a fractured skull and was I only now showing ‘secondary’ symptoms? I saw a doctor that day, and she said I was fine, may be some mild concussion. I was relieved but I was also scared. I spent the rest of the evening on the couch, resting. What the fuck was I doing I kept saying to myself?
The Mindfulness of Yoga (3): The Yoga Class
The class I regularly go to at the Life Centre in Notting Hill on Friday night is a pretty humble affair. It’s a level 2-3 class, but really a beginner would slot in nicely. I’ve been attending for years as a faithful student of my one of my teachers, who I am forever indebted to for his wisdom and guidance (everyone needs a ‘guru’ right?).
So to this extent, I was quite surprised when I experienced the popping sound of my left knee as my teacher unusually invited us to go into ‘half-lotus’ position whilst in a seated twist. Popping of the knees is normally a bad sign. As a skier, this is really bad news. As the winter is fast approaching, I thought I was in a world of trouble. ACL injuries are normally serious and involve months of rehabilitation.
I kept asking myself over the weekend. Why did I do that? Why did I follow the teacher blindly and push my knee into a dangerous position and risk what I love doing on the mountains? There was no need. The pose was fine as it was. Luckily, the knee seems ‘ok’, but still a nasty shock that set me back a bit.
What have all these three events got into common? In all three of these situations, the feeling of observing my life before the event and after was distinct. There was a feeling of life being so pleasant, and then it all changed again, so quickly. I desperately wanted my life like it was just before. However ‘before’, I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to experience what I have in my life. We all go about our daily lives like this. Some would say in a rather unconscious way.
The Mindfulness of Yoga taught me that. It made me go back to the times when life was just ‘fine’, but I didn’t know it then. The Mindfulness of Yoga could be anything in your life that you are passionate about. Maybe it’s riding a bike, maybe it’s another pursuit. Whatever it is, wherever there is a fine line, the duality of a ‘life in light’, and a ‘life in darkness’ can switch in the blink of an eye. Whenever exuberance strikes or carelessness creeps in, can be a signal to heed caution. Or simply taking a step back, and just being grateful – grateful for being alive.