(My default mode is humor, in case you hadn’t noticed. The title of this post came to me as I was walking through the center of the city, passing through the ‘Jardin’ as the morning cleaning crew was washing down the cobblestones and iron benches, and sweeping up the remains from the nightly promenading. The fireworks contingent has erected yet another ‘castillo’ in front of the beautiful pink church which, was rosily aglow in the early morning sun. I was musing on my asana practice, and why it’s not such a priority at this time).
There are more limbs to the tree of yoga than the ‘asana‘ limb, the big branch that seems almost steroidally over-worked here in the West. And maybe that’s why it seems less of a priority as I start my sabbatical. I would say that the niyama, ‘Svadhyaya’, which TKV Desikachar defines as “self-inquiry; any study that helps you understand yourself; the study of sacred texts”, seems to be the cream that is rising to the top of my bowl.
This time of sabbatical feels like a very sacred, privileged time. It also seems incredibly practical and I want to ask, why aren’t more of us creating our own ‘sabbatical’ times? It would seem that regular periods of self-reflection and self-study would go a long way towards a happier, healthier life. As the mother of four sons, I can feel a wave of responses coming in: Who the heck has the TIME , let alone the financial and other means of support, that ALLOW for this kind of ‘time out’?
(A little story: When I started college, the second time around, I started a practice of taking off one day a month. I would not go to classes, or even onto the campus. I rested, read things other than text books, rested some more, maybe hung out at a favorite cafe for hours or cooked something and ate meals in bed. I created all these rituals around slowing down and savoring, so that I could have periods of deep absorption, as well as self-care. My GPA didn’t seem to suffer. I don’t know if my sons remember, but they, too, got spontaneous days off from school. ‘Mental Health Days’, we would call them. Or ‘Pajama Days’.)
What do ‘Pajama Days’ have to do with an adult’s sabbatical year, let alone the ongoing search for a sustainable, interesting, revelatory asana practice? Good question! While I search for an answer to that, I am going to go experiment with making a custard pie from some of the pungent limes I got at the organic market yesterday. As it bakes and chills, I’ll roll out my mat and see where my body-desires lead. I feel my psoas slumbering; it’s beginning to take on the personality of one of those creatures that inhabits the colder, darker regions of the sea, and I think that if I lie quietly for awhile, it will awaken and move enough that we can start a dialogue. My legs have gotten so strong from all the upping and downing along the hill paths here; my diaphragm, intercostals, and other muscles necessary for respiration feel strong, too. But that dang psoas, and its buddy transversus abdominis, are waiting for me to slow down even more before they’ll let me in on some of their deeper mysteries.