So, I was recently visiting the nation's capital. After a few trips on the Metro in D.C., that sense of newness quickly subsided and I began to realize a couple of things that made me think.
First of all, and funny enough, the locals seem to stick out more than the tourists, depending on the day, time, and train, of course. They carry around this air of "anywhere but here". Giving 99% of their attention to some combination of text, email, mobile news, social media and music, it's amazing that they actually get where they're supposed to be. They have a certain "swavvy", if you will. Savvy enough to navigate the Metro with only 1% of their attention; and enough swagger, for those who choose to pay attention, that says, "I'm so not new to this". And that's cool. For the record, I'm not criticizing anyone, I'm just saying. I'm coming from Madison, where they obviously put something in the drinking water that has somehow led us to become the biggest group of people watching professionals in the country.
Anyway, I started thinking about how things would be different if we all practiced yoga on the blue line. I'm not talking about the physical practice, although bird of paradise on the moving train would be super impressive. I'm talking about the other stuff. What if we took our daily commute as an opportunity to reflect on the non-physical part of yoga?
Yamas, the first limb on the eight-fold path, are the ethical "reins" that we lovingly bring to the NOW whenever possible. On the train, aparigraha means that we refrain from coveting our neighbors Beats, even if they are the wireless white ones. Asteya means that we refrain from jacking said neighbor for said Beats, while ahimsa means that perhaps we don't blast music in our headphones to the point of causing hearing loss.
Turning the attention to ourselves, Niyamas are the "observances" that lead us down the path of heightened inner strength and discipline. Introspection yields insight. Consider your readiness, or even dedication to purifying your body and mind.
Saucha means that on the way to the Nationals game, you decide against littering or tagging the train. Energetically, it also means that we bring respect and consideration for the common use of the train by countless others.
Santosha is described as happiness, but not just happiness, and not from things. Remember, all things are impermanent and attachment to those things will lead to suffering. Santosha is a state of contentment that arises from the absence of cravings, absence of wanting, absence of worry. We could all learn a lesson from those happy, energetic, care-free kids on the train that don't seem to understand the words "settle down".
Svadhyaya is the self-study part of the practice. Introspection. Anytime, anyplace as Janet Jackson would say, is the best time and place for growing your awareness of that inward space. Maybe on the train, this is where you are so deep into your own inner workings, that you don't even notice some visiting tourist from Madison checking out your swavvy. Smirk.
The first two limbs, obviously can and should be practiced anywhere. They are just as much a part of the yoga practice as asana and pranayama, but rarely seem to garner much attention. I have only skimmed the surface here. For an example of a complete list and description of yamas & niyamas, check here: http://www.theyamasandniyamas.com/. For more discussion, hit me up!