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May 2013 – Yoga and Time Management
Dear Yoga Friends,
Why is it so funny to see someone in a hurry wearing high-heels? My view is that we are actually laughing at ourselves because it is such a characteristically human situation. Why do we continually create constraints for ourselves, either unwittingly or purposefully, that thwart our progress?
Asana practice can recreate this typically human dynamic and give us practical tools for working more intelligently. Touch the floor. No, without bending your knees. No, without stressing your back. No, without clenching your jaw. Ok, don't touch the floor, try blocks, or the wall. Now straighten your legs. Can you find some length in your torso? And the process goes on...
But if you are in a hurry, how did you get in a hurry? Ok, I'm not saying we can always avoid being in a hurry, but seriously, do you have a "to-do list"? And how is it going with that list? Have you worked your way through it yet? Believe it or not, yoga has something to say about to-do lists, and let me make the disclaimer that this is purely my interpretation. I believe that to-do lists are valuable, but not for the reason most people think they are. The common perception is that these lists are important for keeping track of tasks to make sure they get done. If that were the case, the fact that things come on the list as least as fast as they go off the list would be quite depressing.
Let's take a look at Sutra III.53 (translation from B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali):
Now this is a pretty sophisticated sutra, at the end of a very profound pada, or chapter, of the yoga sutras. The chapter describes various powers and capabilities that may come with long and focused practice. This sutra is clearly saying something important about our relationship to time and action.
Without claiming any particularly deep understanding here, I will put forth my view that yoga teaches us to view our to-do list as a "not-to-do list", the list of all the tasks we should not be doing right now. These are all the things that our ego and the world say we need to get done, but hey, they are by definition not getting done right now, and that's ok. The purpose of the list is to record the things we do not need to be doing so that our mind can let go of them. There are times when none of that stuff needs to get done, and finding a sense of centeredness, focus, calm, health, and being on an inward journey is all-important.
I'd be very interested in whether this makes any sense to you.