I made a commitment for Lent this year to ride my stationary bike for 30 minutes a day with one day off per week. I also committed to do some asana and meditation each day. Happily, I can report that 17 days into Lent, I am staying true to my commitment!
There is a mini-dashboard on my stationary bike that tells me my speed, time, distance and calories burned. Last week I told some fellow yogis about my 40-day Sadhana (dedicated practice) and that I was burning 1,000 calories in a 30-minute cycling session. Thatâ€™s where the dot comes in!
I was riding earlier this week with the benefit of having my contact lens in (in other words, I could see better) and I noticed the dot! In fact, on closer inspection, it was an arrow pointing me to what was there all along!
Up until then I had not been seeing clearly. What I thought were calories burned, was actually distance traveled. What I thought was distance, was the calorie readout. Having corrected my misunderstanding, I now know that I am riding about 10 miles and burning about 340 calories in an average 30-minute session.
The information didnâ€™t change. How I rode my bike didnâ€™t change. How I perceived things did! Just like the gauge on my bike, yoga poses donâ€™t really change, but how I see them often does.
In my personal asana practice, I have been noticing the “dot” inÂ back-bending poses. I have been seeing them differently and moving forward with a new perspective.
Often we can get attached to one point of view and call it the â€œright wayâ€. My moment of seeing clearly while on my bike showed just how easily we can miss a detail that tells us a completely new story.
This brings me to the concept of Abhyasa and Vairagya. Abhyasa is defined as practice. Varaigya is defined as dispassion. According to yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein, PhD, the two together are considered essential aspects of spiritual life.
Through continued practice with dispassion, I can look upon the same postures with fresh eyes. I can discover that previously hidden â€œdotâ€ that changes my perception.
The lesson of Vairagya is to be open enough to notice when we attach ourselves to one point of view. When we practice with dispassion, our yoga can become an inquiry, an investigation, a question mark.
The more I contemplate Vairagya, the more I understand how integral this is to Abhyasa. Together, they have been referred to as the two wings of a bird. Both are needed in order to fly.
May the gifts of abhyasa and vairagya help you soar to new heights, both on your mat and in your life.