On Practicing while Traveling
I’ve had a mix of influences in my Ashtanga practice. There’s advice I get from books, from nubile teachers and experienced teachers on how to integrate the practice into daily life, on and off the mat – and there’s no easy answer to this question. Over the years I’m claimed my devotion to Ashtanga, I learned that it’s however you want it to be.
Experiencing both the high of constant practice and the guilt of procrastination, I need to always remind myself that whenever and however I choose to practice today, tomorrow, or 3 months from now- I should celebrate the fact that I practiced.
And, well…also accept whatever consequences come after.
I haven’t been practicing for a good month and even before that it’s been sparse. It reminded me so much of a conversation with my Jakarta friends and my teacher.
Me: I love traveling but it’s so difficult to come back. It’s a different body, it’s not the body I left with.
A: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.
Y: Yes, but then you learn something else when you restart your practice.
How true and amazing is that?
As we practice introspection on and off the mat, there’s this physical reminder that we are not linear beings. We are complex and there are peaks and valleys mentally and physically.
My favorite most influential teacher (who was listening to us talk) has a funny view about pain. He quoted the band’s Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” at times where the pose is too much that you want to back off. What I’ve derived from the conversation is that there are lessons to be learnt in every occasion you go on the mat. Whether it be disappointing to your ego, or a pat on the back – you take whatever the practices gives you and also the responsibility of breaking what that means for yourself.
I can only imagine the immense pressure teachers face when asked so many questions without context.
How come my right ankle hurts in padmasana but not in urdvha padmasana?
How come my body is so heavy after a day without practice?
How come I don’t feel any different when on my period and without it? (Yes, people go there.)
And when I found time to practice in Barcelona, there were so many questions in my head that I couldn’t bring to speak in front of the teacher. While we work hard to make sense of things, it helps when a teacher has experience to calm everything down. She did not know my history and observed so well that she knew what to expect. With that energy, I just accepted whatever my body gave me that day. I was fortunate that it gave me more that what I would have expected.
So I went back to my initial question, can I practice during vacation? Will it make a difference?
The answer is – it will if you let it.