The Everyday Yogis
I like coming into the park and sitting with the elders as they practice their pranayama and morning prayers. The energy is quite potent, quite still in here. A certain type of quiet, even as the sounds of morning life still filter through the iron fence that circles the space.
I came upon these 'Everyday Yogis' quite accidentally while walking along a new route. They are an assorted group of people: some young, middle aged, a lot of elderly too. They arrive independently and at various times, acknowledging one another with a subtle tilt of the head or a soft greeting.
Today I see one old lady approach the park so slowly, her walking stick stiffly guiding her, her silhouette a deep grey in the morning light. She pauses and leans on a tree near the entrance, her posture relaxing into a sigh of physical relief. I expect her to gather some strength and carry on but no, she drops the walking stick and now she is energetically reaching up into the branches, stretching tall and clasping a branch firmly, allowing the weight to be taken away from her feet. Her sari is swinging all around her as she dangles one leg at a time, swaying back and forth, golden threads sparkling as she moves. A chipmunk runs up the trunk and joins her in the tree.
Across the grass an old man sits on a bench and he is clapping his hands, his eyes tightly shut in concentration as he shifts the energy in his body. From my seat I can just about hear the steady beat of his meditation. A few birds are singing a melody over the top of his rhythm and the sun is climbing a little higher in the sky, dancing its morning dance, glittering through the leaves.
On the next bench a lady dressed in pink is using a silk handkerchief as she practices nadi shodana, alternate nostril breathing. She is old and her limbs are deeply nestled in the fabric of her drape, but her spine is erect and her right arm is held steadily in position. Her left hand rests lightly on her knee, finger to thumb, connection of the individual to the supreme.
An elegant woman to my left smiles warmly at me and then returns to her mudra, eyes closed, dropping deeply within and singing in a whisper while she meditates. I see her lips taking the shape of some specific mantra, her long grey hair elegantly pulled back at her nape and her face glowing in the rose gold sunlight that is now steadily entering the park.
And in front of me a young Sikh man is sitting in silence, writing notes into a pad of paper and checking back over previous pages. He wears a simple patka to cover his hair and appears uncomplicated in his work, one leg crossed over his thigh, calmly contributing to the writings that he is preparing. He does not look up, his focus is complete.
Some men enter the park and a lady walks by, carrying a bag of dal and rice and something else that I can't quite see. They all chatter lightly as they circle the path before fading into the distance.
Now the old man has finished clapping and is practicing his pranayama, his breath work. He is working through some energetic exhalations through the left nostril, his eyes are still so tightly shut. Meanwhile the lady in pink remains in position but has moved onto a simple asana sequence; some shoulder shrugs, some spine work, some gentle neck rolls. The sun is quite high now and the birds are rustling the leaves of the trees around us, someone is sweeping the trail. A phone suddenly rings on high volume and elsewhere two men laugh together.
I collect my things and stand up, fueled by this calm and quite accidental satsang, refreshed and ready to enter back into my day. Traditionally people never needed yoga studios and yoga businesses, they just need a few simple techniques that keep them in good health with a steady mind -and something they can easily achieve every morning as they complete their morning errands. Why have we chosen to make it so complicated?
As I turn to the gate I again catch the eye of the lady to my left; the lady with the hair at her nape, her neck long and her face still glowing from the morning sun. She gives me a big twinkling grin, a friendly Namaskar. We wobble our heads slightly and decide to meet again tomorrow.