In New Orleans, Fat Tuesday is like a second New Year and a second chance to reboot healthy good intentions. Our previous blog referenced the Gunas — Rajas, Tamas and Sattva, that is the qualities that run through all of existence. They encapsulate the tendency we as humans have towards indulgence or its extreme opposite, our deeper desire for balance and inner peace, and the cycle that keeps us from experiencing this truth through old beliefs that dictate our present behaviors. It might be helpful to take a closer look at just how “Guna-friendly” is the beloved city we call home?
Halloween is in October followed by Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December, New Years in January, Mardi Gras falls in February or March with Spring break on its heals then French Quarter festival in April and Jazz Festival in April and May. Not to mention the countless other celebrations of music, food, art and culture that run throughout the year. The point is that with so many occasions to “laissez les bons temps rouler,” our chances to stop the back and forth between Tamas and Rajas with only the occasional glimpse of Sattva, abound in New Orleans. How to live in a city that is prone to partying?
The answer is to practice a discipline that cultivates a lifestyle that leads to greater awareness rather than to exercise between a binge purge cycle that leaves you drained. Ashtanga yoga is a lifetime discipline. It fosters mindfulness that brings a deep understanding to your actions and thoughts — and has the convenient bonus of keeping you unbelievably fit!
How does this work? The breath links the gap between body and mind using poses as the catalyst. This process places you squarely in your body where the unconscious mind is stored on a cellular level. Your practice is a microcosm of life. The Gunas, ever present, slowly bubble up to the surface as if to say, “Look at me!” Eventually you can’t help but see the dance before you. Recurring obstacles (in your life) turn up in your practice but greater awareness and understanding is also growing. Your will is bolstered as the subtle energies of the mind travel down into the body. You begin to observe rather than react and to make different choices. This greater insight aligns with a more honest relationship to the Gunas and the imbalances that pull you in different directions.
A daily Ashtanga practice is a daily renewal to life itself. It is a chance to check in with being on any given day. It sets you up to have the best day possible, to be the best you can be in any given situation and to not hold on to whatever happens after that. At the next festival or party, don’t be surprised to find yourself participating differently or if you choose to play in the same usual way then at least you will find you are more present in the experience.