Do I need a lifestyle re-think?

Saturday 5 April, 2008

In my bedroom bookcase, there's a small pile of yoga books that I bought during the Sivananda Teacher Training course (TTC) I completed in California last last year.

Until yesterday they remained in exactly the same place as I had left them on my return home in November - the victims of an extended 'drying out' period, brought on by a hugely intensive month of yoga study.

But last night I took the plunge, and was rewarded by finding a section in one of the recommended books, Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy, that made me smile - and then reflect.

The final chapter recommends how serious yoga students should divide the hours in the day. Here's a sample of how it says you should, ideally, spend a typical day:

6-7 hours' sleep, rising at 5.30am
1 ½ hours asana session
20-30 minutes of meditation
1 hour of self-study
1-2 hours of your favourite 'sattvic' (pure) hobby
6 hours of positive work (such as karma yoga, or 'selfless service')
3 hours for food, cooking, eating and digesting
2 hours for friends and family
2 hours for personal hygiene
2 hours for miscellaneous free time

Additions to this list would include two meals of fresh vegetarian (if not vegan) food a day and no chocolate, caffeine or alcohol.

All of which is all very well if one has the pared-down luxury of living long-term in an ashram, where the pursuit of a serious yoga lifestyle is the raison d'etre.

Alas for most of us, priorities lie elsewhere. A sample of my day when I'm working in London would look something like this:

7 hours sleep, rising at 7am
no asana or meditation session
rushed bowl of soggy cornflakes
mad dash for the commuter train at 7.50am
90 minutes on the train, then dodging stampedes on the London Underground
8 hours sitting in an airless office, typing and staring at a computer screen
30 minutes jostling for space at a cafe off Oxford Street wolfing down lunch
90 minutes unpleasant commute back home
30 minutes cooking and eating dinner
TV, the internet, reading, talking, perhaps the odd sneaky glass of vino blanco
To bed, exhausted

Hmm. I certainly don't have time for two hours of personal hygiene every day (the mind boggles).

No prizes for guessing which blueprint I'd chose in an ideal world. Though I know what the Swamis at the Sivananda ashram I stayed at last autumn would say: the choice of which life I lead is entirely mine.

Does your average day come close to the Sivananda/yoga ideal? I'd love to hear. Please log in and leave a comment.

Lucia Cockcroft, editor


This is the biggest issue in

This is the biggest issue in my life these days. My yoga and spiritual practice are my passions, and work, while I don't hate it, feels like a detour. I know the choice is totally mine, and I guess I have to keep in mind that I'm building financial security so I can afford to have time for the better things.


I also feel like it's not "fashionable" to have to struggle with this issue - so I'm glad to hear someone else discussing it. . ..


This is an ongoing subject . . .

Hi Rafi, thanks for posting

Hi Rafi, thanks for posting your comments. I think it's the single greatest issue for a lot of people - but, yes, unfashionable perhaps to admit it.


I think the tide is turning, though, and lifestyles will have to start changing as stress/depression/exhaustion take an even bigger toll. It's a step in the right direction for companies to begin to offer flexible and part-time working, though I think this should be extended for everyone, not just for people with kids.




Editor - Yoga-abode

Asana of the Month

Yoga Travel

Writer and yoga teacher Sarah Dawson re-discovers contentment at Portugese retreat centre, Vale de Moses.


Mindfulneses author & coach Shamash Alidina explains the importance of switching from 'doing' to 'being'.