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pico iyer


Yoga and the Art of Stillness

April 3, 2018

A couple of weeks ago I read ‘The Art of Stillness’ by Pico Iyer and thought it was a cute little read. As a yoga teacher I’ve given and received spiels about the topic innumerable times. I understand the importance of being still, that’s why we have Savasana at the end of every class.

The thing is, you may understand something theoretically, but it’s only when you experience it that you actually know it. And this weekend I actually got to know stillness. My sister in town and we decided to spend time at the Navadarshanam farms, situated right outside Bangalore (actually in Tamil Nadu).

Wilderness surrounds the entire acreage of the farm. It’s a no fan zone. It’s a pleasure to walk barefoot on the red oxide floor of the huts. I saw a charcoal rice cooker for the first time. The tea was amazing. The air was clean. The sky was clear. We watched the evening rain from the coolness of our veranda. Bougainvillea grew in abundance and after the rains there was lavender all over the ground.

The most striking thing, though, is that there is absolutely no agenda. There are walks, but no fixed time for the walks. Food is served on time, but you eat in calm silence. Every once in a while they bake bread. So we spent our time gazing out at the trees and reading our books. We lay on our beds and chatted and read a little more. We snoozed a bit. All our questions ceased. We started to just be.

I’ve recognized stillness because on good days, I experience it during my practice. The happy glow that radiates even through my WhatsApp messages when I’ve had a great practice is not because I nailed an advanced asana. It’s because, for an instant, I managed to transcend the mere physicality of the movements to find stillness.

“Sitting still is a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it;” writes Pico Iyer in The Art of Stillness. Finding stillness in your yoga practice is a way of falling in love with yourself and everything around you.

Striking a pose, as usual.

Everything lavender post the rains.

The herbal tea is truly delicious.

Small temples dot the road to the farm.