The other day as I was driving to yoga class in a wintry mix of snow and rain, I noticed a van on the highway that was speeding along without lights. Since I could scarcely see the road ahead with my car lights on, I wondered how this individual could be so unaware that he/she had ventured out onto the road without some form of illumination to guide the way (not to mention the hazard this posed to other drivers).
This got me thinking, not surprisingly, about yoga, and the teachings we use to guide our paths, because for me the principles and tenets of yoga are like beams of light that help to illuminate the path I’m on each day, regardless of whether the weather is sunny or bleak.
For instance, if I’m thinking of making a snide remark to someone who has crossed my path, I’m often reminded of the yogic tenet of Ahimsa, to do no harm and to show compassion for all living things. If I’m conjuring up a little white lie (or even a big one!) I’m often held back by Satya, or commitment to truthfulness. The physical postures (or asanas) practiced in yoga keep me physically fit (or at least, headed in that direction), and the mantras and meditations that are used in my practice connect me to the knowledge that there’s a greater energy overseeing the planet (for many, religion may offer some of these same functions, of course).
But for me, yoga is the way of Light, the practice that reminds me to turn on my headlights every day. Being aware and in the present moment ensures that I don’t stray too far off the road I intend to be on, and also ensures that I don’t willingly or knowingly do or say something that might cause harm to another. How many people, I wonder, are navigating their daily lives without even realizing that their headlights aren’t on? Like that van driver, how many are putting others in danger because they’re too preoccupied or disconnected to even realize the hazard they pose to others’ emotional or physical wellbeing?
As I arrived at my yoga center that day and emerged from my car onto the slippery parking lot, I was ten steps away before I realized I’d forgotten to turn my headlights off. I thought that was a rather humorous nod from the Universe, which seemed to be suggesting that once you’ve become “aware” there’s really no turning back to the darkness.
Still, a car is a car, and I didn’t want to run down the battery!